Week #207 – Curing Cancer Is Hard – Time To Pivot Our Plan

Hey friends,
Thank you for all the support!
This week was tough as far as news and progress go. If it proves one thing, it proves curing cancer is damn hard business!

We had hoped my 90-day tests at UCSF would show the experimental treatment I received back in June is working as designed.  As I described on some social media posts, we looked at the situation and possible outcomes this way …

It’s like there are 3 doors in front of us:
Door 1 =
We could learn the trial is working. That means a trip to Survivor-Land and regular follow-up scans.
Door 2 =
We could learn we still don’t know definitively if the trial is working and there hasn’t been a significant negative change in my condition. That means staying the course in the clinical trial.
Door 3 =
We could learn of a significant negative change. That means we come off the clinical trial and we develop a new plan of action.
Well, now the results are in and it looks like we are going through Door 2.5.
My CT scans do show a small increase in some of the bad stuff. It’s not major activity but at this point in the clinical trial, we expect things to be moving in the other direction. And, by UCSF’s patient safety and clinical trial rules, that little activity is enough to bump me out of the trial study group and back into some maintenance chemo treatments.
On the upside, we’ll be using a chemo blend that I tolerate very well AND I get to keep the super-cells they put into me as part of the study. 😉I am a mutant, now and forever! (Worth a mention, the supercells still could possibly kick on at some point and do their thing. That means my “X-Men” status is still not off the table of possibilities!)
People have been asking me if I’m angry and telling me it’s okay to be mad about the situation. I just don’t think that is in me. Sure, I’m disappointed we won’t get a ticker-tape parade down at UCSF. But, I learned long ago, cancer is unpredictable and this type of change in plan comes with the territory.  Also, I’ve got nothing but gratitude for where I am today, the amazing shape I’m in, and the support I’m receiving from family, friends, colleagues, and cancer fighters from all around the world. I also keep these thoughts and experiences in mind:
Someone always has it worse. I saw this Tuesday in a young boy and his mom who were leaving UCSF Cancer Center. Seeing the kids is always heartbreaking and sobering for me.
We’ve helped advance cancer research that might help thousands of other patients. We started my clinical trial effort 1 year ago this month (True dat!). UCSF and PACT Pharma now have mountains of data from my case.  And, I will continue to check in with clinical study 1x per year in the years ahead. Even though I’m out, my progress and outcome will be monitored.
Our bigger picture progress continues to be miraculous. November 1st will mark the beginning of my 5th year on cancer mountain. The initial plan we developed 4 years ago with my amazing medical team at UCSF (and St. Joe’s Health) has been an incredible success. We knew heading into this there is no cure for my type of cancer. Our goal was/is to keep me in a steady-state and wait for a breakthrough to come along. It’s undeniable that we’ve been wildly successful in that mission to date. And, moving forward, we continue to have a wide range of treatment options at our disposal. You really cannot ask for much more on this nasty hill.
So, we move on, keep climbing, and keep at it.
I’ll re-start my chemo treatments (#51) in the weeks ahead and we’ll do scans again in December.
Thanks for all your support.
Keep rollin’,

Published by Mark Crafts

I am a Stage IV cancer survivor with a very hopeful and amazing story. Surgery, chemo, radiation … I’ve have been through it all during 44+ months of treatment. Now, I am a UCSF clinical trial patient loaded with “Terminator” T-cells which may provide a major breakthrough for colorectal, colon, liver, lung, and head & neck cancers. Amazing things are always possible!

One thought on “Week #207 – Curing Cancer Is Hard – Time To Pivot Our Plan

  1. You are amazing, Mark, and you are a superhero to those who care about you personally and for the many, many more explorers yet to hit the Cancer Mountain trailhead. This trial wasn’t your miracle, but it will be someone else’s. And in the meantime, you have the determination and stamina to continue on the tested path. My heart is with you and yours. I am proud to know you.

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