Clinical Trial Appointment Update

"One must know that there is a path at the end of the road." - Mrs. Barbara's Fortune Cookie

We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant last night. Her “fortune” is such a great message to keep in mind on this journey of survival. It paints a picture of HOPE. The road may end, but remember there’s still a path. And for Mrs. Barbara, her path is only gently worn, and her travel down it may turn it into a road for other people. How brave!!

Today, we met with Dr. Fu, one of MD Anderson’s clinical trial doctors. He reviewed Mrs. Barbara’s history, did a brief physical exam, and then went out of the room to search the trial database at MDA to find a trial that she may fit into. He returned about 30 minutes later, along with his Clinical Coordinator (a doctor who helps run the trial and educates the patient on the benefits and risks) and stated that he had a trial in mind that he felt would be a good start. Dr. Fu drew on a whiteboard as he explained how cancer tumors behave and how these particular trial medications are thought to attack the cancer. He was quick but thorough. We asked a few questions, and he left the rest up to the Coordinator. We were very grateful for him seeing us today. We were worked in as a favor, and they were very kind.

Treating cancer is very complicated. I will try to be brief in my description of the trial that Mrs. Barbara will hopefully start in the coming weeks. (She meets the eligibility requirements, but we still have to wait for insurance approval.) I will not share the particular trial number or the drugs being used on the blog just yet. We would like some time to review the trial information and risks, and once she has officially started, we may do so later. If you would like this information, please feel free to email me privately. The trial she is considering is a Phase 1 trial involving 2 FDA approved drugs. Each drug has been approved individually to treat different cancers, but neither has been used together, which makes this treatment “experimental.” One drug targets a tumor’s ability to develop blood vessels and starves it of oxygen. The other drug affects the tumor’s ability to genetically change or evolve (which leads to mutation and metastasis). Her trial will look at which doses of the drugs are tolerable. They start with small doses and make incremental increases as patients tolerate the treatment until they find the highest dose that is effective but doesn’t make the treatment too hard to go through.

Mrs. Barbara can stay in this trial as long as it is helping her. If at any time, she finds a better option, has significant side effects, or the treatment isn’t working, she can choose to the leave the trial. She will have to travel to MD Anderson once a month for the first 6 months. The drugs are taken by mouth and she will take them everyday and get bloodwork drawn weekly. All of this can be done at home. The monthly visits to MD Anderson will be for check ups at the beginning of each cycle. Every 2nd month, they will do imaging and check bloodwork to see if the treatment is helping.

We are very encouraged that there is a trial for her to try. We’re praying insurance will cover the trial medications and that she can start on April 9th. In the meantime, there is more waiting, but we have a plan…and there is peace in that. The next 2 weeks will be about enjoying life, and making future preparations to travel to MD Anderson regularly. I flew home to Nashville this evening, and Mrs. Barbara and Coach are headed to visit Chad and his family. Our separation was bittersweet. I miss my family waiting at home, but I already miss Mrs. Barbara and Coach too. We can’t be everywhere…that’s God’s job. And He is very much with her, and knowing that gives me peace. Please continue to pray for a miracle, that the cancer tumors stop growing and go away!

Lord, Thank you for the ability to travel to this place. Thank You for what feels like an aligning of the stars to get a treatment plan! We know that where we are now is because of Your amazing grace and mercy! Lord, Thank You for the road, but even more so for the path that follows. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.