I really wanted good news to share. I really wanted to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. During this strange time of coronavirus and quarantine it feels very necessary to be bringing people up. I’ll try my best to bring at least a little grin with my words.
I met with Dr J yesterday. The news isn’t the best. My cancer has gotten worse. Everything has grown since my last scan in January and it seems there are many spots of progressed disease. Inside and outside the liver. They are still considered small, but bigger than they were in January and require quick action to get this disease controlled.
In an ideal world, I’d either enroll in a clinical trial or resume chemotherapy. Had this pandemic not been going on, I could have started a T Cell Therapy clinical trial in Houston. My dad being the smartie pants he is and probably my best advocate (so, thankful for you and honestly have no idea what I would do without you) had Miguel and I ask at my last MD Anderson trip if T Cell Therapy is an option. They let us know that they are actually enrolling a new clinical trial, Phase 1/2 Trial of TC-210 T Cells in Patients With Advanced Mesothelin-Expressing Cancer and could see if the sponsor of the trial felt I was a candidate. The sponsor responded almost immediately that I am. The clinical trial coordinator advised I would need to have leftover tissue from my surgery in August tested for the protein, Mesothelin and if I have it, I am a match and could enroll. The chance of me being a match was about 30%.
I signed the consent to let them analyze the tissue and waited at home to hear back. It took a solid month and then I got a call that I have the protein needed to qualify and can enroll! Amazing news. Another tool for the tool box, phew— relief. Well, now with the pandemic we are in, this sigh of relief is going to have to wait. They aren’t enrolling new patients until things have settled down which is understandable. They have three people currently enrolled so it will be nice to hear what they find with them since this is a brand new study. I’m thankful I’m a match, I’m thankful I still have this option, I wish I could start it now but in these times, many of us aren’t getting what we want and my practice in patience will continue.
So for now, the plan is for me to start chemotherapy very soon. Sometime in the next 1-2 weeks. I’ll receive chemotherapy until I’m able to enroll in the trial. Hopefully the chemo will control my disease enough for the trial to work out in the future.
In terms of what my “chemo cocktail” will be this go around, it sounds like we will likely mix it up. We haven’t confirmed this plan will Dr F in Houston yet but Dr J had the idea of continuing on my targeted inhibitor medication, Olaparib and adding the chemo drug, Cisplatin only. If you remember, the MD Anderson recommended chemotherapy protocol for cholangiocarcinoma patients consists of three different chemo drugs, Gemcitabine, Cisplatin, and Abraxane. I did this regimen for about a year and it worked really well. But no chemotherapy regimen works forever and just because that regimen worked well before, doesn’t mean it will work this time. Plus it’s a good idea to save the other two chemo drugs for later if needed.
Once we hear from Dr F and can confirm he agrees with Dr J’s Olaparib + Cisplatin infusion protocol, I will be marching my little chemo-ho behind into the infusion room and start treatment. I feel fortunate to have the medical team I have. I appreciate how closely and carefully they are monitoring my disease. I know I am one of the luckier patients with the type of cancer I have. As someone very dear to my heart told me yesterday after I received this news, “its important to remember this is uncharted territory, no one thought you would have made it this far.” I don’t take that for granted. Thank you all for the prayers, love, and support. I love you all and wish you the best in this crazy season of life xo Ashley