Jamaica: A cure for cancer
I’m excited to report that we’ve discovered a cure for cancer. It’s called Jamaica. Dena and I last spent not quite a week at the Half Moon Resort, located, appropriately enough, on a little half moon bay on the island. The photo to the side is the view from the porch of our cottage. The resort boasts a list of activities as long as the tax code, but we did very few of them. That’s the key to the cure — stress reduction. Don’t worry, just hang out. Adopt the Jamaican mindset. (Well, the Jamaican mindset of the regular folks on the island; I’d advise avoiding the mindset of the Jamaican drug gangs that infest some of the cities. Killing people with automatic weapons tends to elevate stress levels.)
Here’s what we did: Hung out on the beach and played golf and ate lobster at sea-lined restaurants. That’s about it. We didn’t explore the rest of the island, we didn’t go parasailing or snorklng, we didn’t ride horses on the beach or swim with the dolphins. Julie McCoy of the Love Boat would not have been impressed. One beautiful day while Dena laid out on the beach I actually laid around in the room watching the Accenture golf tournament (as I try to avoid too much sun exposure, thanks to Sutent) . Yes, there was a sunny beach just steps, literally, from my porch, but I hung out in our room with the french doors open, cool breeze flowing, Red Stripe beer in hand and watched Rory Mcllroy lose to Hunter Mahan in the championship match. Some may suggest that was a waste of an expensive island vacation. I say it’s what cured my cancer.
I may be exaggerating a little bit. I’m not entirely sure my cancer was cured in Jamaica. The CT scans suggest otherwise. Perhaps we need to launch a clinical trial to test my theory. In the meantime, Dena and are still trying to figure out our next move.
We both feel it’s a little strange to be continuing on the Sutent regimen when it appears not to be working. For one thing, the drug still causes you to feel sick all the time, which is fine if it’s working but less inspiring if it’s not. I was supposed to start a new cycle just before heading off to Jamaica, but Dena and I decided not to bother. We didn’t want the side effects messing up our island getaway if the drug’s not really having a positive impact on the cancer. (Our doctor concurred that there was no real harm in putting the next cycle off a week.) I’ve been back for close to a week and still haven’t resumed it; however, I will start it up again tonight.
We’re in a bit of a strange limbo. I always feel better when I’m taking aggressive action against the cancer, even if it results in some nasty side effects. I would go through IL-2 all over again if I thought it would help. There’s one clinical trial we looked at that would require me to go through chemo, then IL-2 and then something else (I’ve forgotten what), which would be about as brutal as it gets. I’d do it, but Dr. Hammers, our oncologist, didn’t feel that the data showed enough promise at this time. He dared me to do it anyway, “just for the hell of it.”
So that puts us in this environment of uncertainty with Sutent. If it’s not working, why keep at it? Why not move on? I know the answer: It might be slowing the growth of the disease in the lungs. Maybe. We don’t really know. What we do know is that, slow or not, the disease continues to progress. Dena and I briefly discussed the option of going to Dr. Hammers and saying we want to move on to a new regimen now rather than wait two more months for another CT scan to make a decision. The problem with that is that we’re not entirely sure what that next regimen should be. As I noted in the last post on Sutent, we may opt for an mTOR inhibitor such as Afinitor.
I always love reading the pages of the drug companies trying to explain the benefits of their drugs while also adhering to the government’s demand that they list everything that could go possibly go wrong no matter how unlikely. Ask your doctor how X can help you overcome indigestion. X can result in lung failure, seizures, hypothermia, black plague, kidney failure, bleeding eyes, Elephantiasis, memory loss, nostril flaring, neck goiters, winking ulcers, women and children despising you and chapped lips. And death. Or worse. So ask your doctor today, and put that afternoon indigestion behind you!
This is what the Afinitor website says: “AFINITOR can cause serious side effects including lung or breathing problems, infections, and kidney failure, which can lead to death. Mouth ulcers and mouth sores are common side effects. AFINITOR can affect blood cell counts, kidney and liver function, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels.” The page shows a relaxed middle-aged couple smiling as they look pleasantly out what appears to be a train window, as if they are on their way to a vacation in southern France. Just under this pleasant photo, the page goes on to mention multiple more things that “could lead to death” (underlined in red).
It would be fun to hold a contest in which people try to guess what’s going on in that pleasant-faced couple’s minds as they smilingly contemplate mouth ulcers and kidney failure. So if you want to give it a whirl, submit your entries in the comments section below.
Here’s Dena’s: “Seriously, we’re paying $9,000 a month for mouth ulcers when I could get be getting diamonds? Yeah, this is one romantic trip.”
For now – we’re going to continue the current course, which is to stick with Sutent, but continue to research next steps. We see Dr. Hammers in two weeks, so the strategy could change after that — we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’m going to collect Jamaican sand and sea and bottle it into vials for IV injection. No worries, mon, that’ll be $9,000 a pop.