“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”— Bob Marley
That quote sits on my desk. I look at it all the time and nod my head in affirmation. If you told me 2 years ago at this time that I’d soon go through 4 surgeries, 20+ rounds of chemo, 10 rounds of radiation, and an 11 month run in the middle with an ileostomy attachment, I’d say you were crazy. But, amazingly, that’s what I’ve been through since November, 2017.
On Monday (8/19), I’ll have Round #24 of my chemo infusions. According to our plan, that should be my last and this feels like a major turning point in my cancer journey. If I need more treatment, I will most likely move on to one of the new and approved ‘immunotherapy’ protocols being developed by the team at UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center. According to my doctors, this will be much more manageable and tolerable than chemo, radiation, or additional surgery. Those are the tools we have thrown at cancer for the past 100 years … which are essentially, poison, zapping, and cutting. In my case, we’ve used them very successfully and now I’m at the gateway of the latest, cutting-edge breakthroughs that you read about.
Immunotherapy is the new frontier of treatment and cancer researcher Jim Allison won a Noble Prize for it in October, 2018. Wired magazine described the importance of his extraordinary work this way: “Allison’s breakthrough was the discovery of a sort of secret handshake that cancer uses to evade the immune system, and a means to block that handshake—what the Nobel committee hailed as “a landmark in our fight against cancer,” which has “revolutionized cancer treatment, fundamentally changing the way we view how cancer can be managed.” (Allison’s co-recipient was Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University.) Advances in cancer typically come in 50-year increments; the science that Allison and Honjo helped advance, cancer immunotherapy, has made a generational leap seemingly overnight.” You can read the full article at this link: Meet the Carousing, Harmonica-Playing Texan Who Won a Nobel for his Cancer Breakthrough
Going back to that Bob Marley quote, I’ll add: it always helps to have strength around you when you have no choice but to be strong. Thank you for all the support and strength you’ve given me, Mady, and Nat, from near and far, throughout these tough weeks. We are forever grateful! – MC
P.S. Get educated. Get screened. Support cancer research. Keep rollin’! Please call your doctor and schedule that appointment you’ve been pushing off.