With all the turmoil and uncertainty throughout world today, I hope you will find this little blog post to be some uplifting and maybe even celebratory news.
It was 3 years ago this week that I was diagnosed with very serious, Stage IV Colorectal Cancer. Since then, I’ve come learn there are 3 big things that make me different than most cancer wrestlers you know, have known, or may ever know. First, I have an absolutely amazing support group of family and friends that stretches nationwide and around the world. Second, I have exceptional health insurance and health benefits through my employer, Salesforce.com. And third, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have access to some of the very best doctors in the world and one of the best cancer hospitals in the United States. These 3 things make me the most fortunate, grateful cancer patient that you know. They are my superpowers and my keys to surviving and actually thriving on cancer mountain.
I’m grateful every day for these advantages and I recognize there are millions of cancer fighters all around the world who do not have them. That has been a key driver for me in working with Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, to help spread word about their work to advance worldwide cancer research and breakthroughs for all types of cancer. To date, my involvement has been on the fundraising front with our bike rides and online donation sites. However, in the next week that will change. I like to think I am graduating from patient-advocate-fundraiser to “Cancer Breakthrough Trailblazer”.
I have been cleared to enter a new clinical trial at UCSF that my doctors feel is right for me and my type of cancer. In brief, we are going to use genetically-modified T-cells, developed from my own immune system, to attack cancer throughout my body. This concept and approach is part of the new, exciting field of cancer treatment you may have read about called Immuno-Oncology. The specific trial solution I will get holds great promise for many types of cancers including colorectal, colon, liver, lung, and head and neck cancers. And, this trial has already onboarded patients at UCSF and City of Hope cancer centers on the west coast. Other leading cancer research hospitals like Memorial Sloan Kettering and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are expected to join this trial soon.
While this new path is very exciting and its outcome won’t be known to us for months down the line, there is a real victory to be celebrated here and now. When we started my cancer treatments 3 years ago, my doctors set a clear plan for us to use surgery, radiation, and chemo, to arrest my cancer and hold in it check. That plan – along with our hopes – called for a new breakthrough solution to arrive in time to help me. That is what’s happening here. We stuck to our plan and it has worked. My family and I are forever grateful to everyone on Team Crafty, both near and far, for helping us get us to this very fortunate spot.
As a patient, you learn very quickly that there are no guarantees on cancer mountain. You have to fight for every inch, every edge, and every stronghold along your path. All the while, you hope that somewhere, somehow, someway, there’s another patient, a researcher, a medical team, a medical organization … anybody! … somewhere in the world working on a something that can help you. I’m really hopeful this new treatment will be exactly that kind of breakthrough not only for me, but for many others in the worldwide cancer community too! We’ll keep you posted on our progress.
Please take our strong advice to look after your own health and the health of those close to you. Get educated. Get screened. Support cancer research. Keep rollin’!
If you’d like to know about the Immuno-Oncology technology involved in my clinical trial, please have a look at PACT Pharma. Their personalized solutions aim to re-program one’s own immune system to target and to eradicate the cancer. The process looks something like this … and yes, it’s really space-age, Tony-Stark-type stuff!
Also, this article “How CRISPR Is Changing Cancer Research and Treatment“ explains the underlying gene editing technology that plays a key role in my clinical trial treatment.
Today, during this 3rd anniversary week of my cancer diagnosis, I crossed over Mile 3000, a mileage goal on my e-bikes since my big surgeries back in 2018. I ride not only for my own health but to also raise awareness and support for worldwide cancer research. We can always use ‘more cowbell‘ … a.k.a donations … at Conquer.org/TeamCrafty2020. That’s our fundraising site for Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation.
Please donate today. We all keep rollin’ with your support. – Thanks! MC
One thought on “Week #158 … 3 Years and 3000 Miles … Now Ready to Blaze a New Trail on Cancer Mountain”
Very exciting Mark and the immune oncology sounds so interesting. I was reading the PACT pharma info on the link you sent…amazing smart researchers and I’m thankful for for their easy-to-understand graphics! 😊 You’re certainly a Trailblazer to me! Congratulations on this big step and hitting 3,000 miles on your bike. You continue to be an inspiration with your positive attitude, willingness to share, and courage. God bless, sending prayers in this next step of your journey. Hugs Diane