I visited my oncologist, Dr. Andrew Pippas, yesterday for the final checkup for my 54-week ASSURE clinical trial. After having my CT scan on Wednesday, it was time for a follow up and time to find out what comes next since the clinical trial is over. I took the last two pills on Monday, August 30 after taking eight pills a day for 54 solid weeks. I have been sure for some time that the pills I’ve been taking are a placebo and not a therapeutic drug. The good news is I’ve had 54 weeks of normalcy without having to deal with potentially devastating side effects from a drug that might not have helped me at all.
Here’s my take from the trial: I had to spend out of my own pocket (and my insurance carrier’s pocket) several thousands of dollars for the MUGA scans, CT scans, office visits and drugs that were related to the trial. That’s the bad news. The good news is I’ve completed a clinical trial and have provided data points which will without a doubt offer researchers another glimpse into how people with kidney cancer react to treatments that could prevent the cancer from reoccurring. In that sense, I’ve done a good, although expensive, deed for mankind.
Other than that, I’m finished with cancer. I’ll have CT scans every six months for the next 18 months. I’ll have regular doctor’s visits along the way and I’ll absolutely set out to beat the odds I was given yesterday. Considering the surgery I had back in June 2009 and the stage/grade of my cancer, I have a 20%-30% chance of my cancer returning. And, if it comes back, it will likely be in my lungs, bones or brain. And, if it comes back, I’ll be going to Duke University Hospital for a treatment called HDIl-2, high-dose interleukin-2. Dr. Pippas has all bases covered and I’m comfortable with that and the diligence with which he’s attacked my cancer.
I have enjoyed the feedback from people who have seen the John B. Amos Cancer Center ads that have appeared in the newspaper, magazines and on television and billboards. I’ve been happy to be a spokesperson for the institution that has been so sorely needed in our region.
Don’t expect me to disappear. I found out a few days ago that I’ve been selected as the 2011 American Cancer Society Crystal Ball honoree! This is great news for me, my family and all the survivors out there whom I’ll be representing. My job is to help an extremely capable committee, led by uber-salesperson Debbie Seeley, raise a mountain of cash for a cause that has destroyed people, families and the pocketbook of our nation. When I come calling, please be prepared to help in any way you can. I hope we’ll see a big crowd at the celebration on March 19, 2011 at the RiverMill Event Center.
With this blog post, I’m testing a mechanism to notify an extensive and important email list. If you received a notification of this blob post via email, you are one of the faithful army of people who followed me for the past 15 months on my CarePage cancer blog. It is important to me to stay in touch with this awesome cadre of supporters. I hope you will stay with me as I move into a different phase of my efforts to stay healthy and beat cancer.