If you are extremely lucky like me, at some point during your time on cancer mountain, a breakthrough will come along offering you a potential path to safety. Later this month, thanks to some very recent, major advances in Immunotherapy, I will be receiving an experimental, *potentially curative* treatment for my cancer. This is a truly amazing and very fortunate place to be after 3.5+ years of very rough climbing and tangling with the beast called cancer. It feels like we have reached a very promising clearing and solid launch pad off the mountain and out of the woods. Should this clinical trial be successful, it will be a major advance for treating 5 types of major cancers including Colon, Colorectal, Liver, Lung, and Head & Neck cancers.
A breakthrough like this was both our biggest hope and a key assumption when we first set our approach plan after my initial diagnosis back in late 2017. In order to address a metastatic cancer like mine (Stage IV, Colorectal), we’ve needed a combination of many things to come together in our favor. While time and new solutions were obvious key requirements, we also needed a world class team to design and execute my treatment regimen. Thankfully, we have had that in my wonderful crew of healthcare heroes at UCSF Cancer Center in San Francisco.
Since Nov 2017, my amazing team there has expertly worked our plan. In simplest terms, they aimed to arrest my cancer, keep it under tight control, and hope a relevant breakthrough arrives in time to get me to a safe place. They have worked seamlessly across their Oncology, Radiation, Surgery, Immunotherapy, and Clinical Trial departments and workgroups to incorporate and combine all their deep expertise wherever and whenever needed:
1) They have been vigilant about studying, developing, and tracking the latest cancer breakthroughs that might help my case.
2) They have leveraged all the existing tools we’ve had to fight cancer for the past 100 years or so. (Those tools are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. And, I’ve endured a lot of all three through my 4 surgeries, 25 rounds of radiation, and 46 rounds of chemo!)
3) They have successfully ramped me into this promising new clinical trial with PACT Pharma by balancing my ongoing treatments with the 6-month, multi-stage, multi-step onboarding process required for trial candidates.
It is no stretch to say that without my UCSF team I would not be here today. My family and I could not be more grateful or humbled by their continued efforts on our/my behalf.
Here’s my clinical trial schedule at a high level.
Over the next 3 weeks, we still have to tackle some final steps before my ‘big shot’:
– CT scans and tests … 6/15
– Biopsy, a baseline for the clinical study … 6/18
– Prep Chemo / 4 more rounds … 6/22, 6/23, 6/24, and 6/25
– The Big Shot … 6/28 … Should this clinical trial work as expected, the customized T-Cells provided by the ‘big shot’ will attack my cancer anywhere it may be hiding … and, I will not need any more surgery, radiation or chemo.
– Monitoring … 6/29 through June 2036 … Yes, you read that right. The study will run for 15 years and I will be tracked throughout.
So when I tell you I am the most fortunate, most grateful cancer-fighter you will ever know, now you know why. As one of my UCSF team members said to me some time ago, “Mark, you really are a walking miracle and the future of medicine”. I believe that is true and so should you.
Blast off in T-Minus 25 Days … and I say “Bring it!”
Thanks for all the support from near and far.
Mady, Nat, and I are forever grateful.
Support cancer research.
For more detail on my UCSF/PACT Pharma Clinical Trial … visit this link.