Monday, July 11, 2016

The spectrum of outcomes with cancer

The floor I am on has a mix of trials going on right now. At one end of the spectrum is my trial which is well tolerated, and the outcomes are good. Then at the other end of the spectrum there is ATL (Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma). The 2-3 year survival rate is 10-20% with aggressive chemotherapy and only 5% survival rate at 4 years.

It was quiet here over the weekend so spent more time talking with some of the nurses. Last week 2 patients on my unit died, and at least one more the week before. I knew some of my roommates had been very ill, but I had no idea. I can see how hard it is on the nurses who care for us and get to know us to have patients who they are working tirelessly to make well die.

I feel like cancer needs some kind of staging, or differentiation across the types. There are those that have >90% survival rates with with surgery, and/or treatment. This feels like "cancer" to me. Then there is "CANCER" like pancreatic, or ATL, where the chances of living beyond 6 months once you are diagnosed are very low.

Different types of cancer have very different expected outcomes, and this week I am feeling very lucky to have a lower case kind of cancer. Short time side effects like I am having, are nothing since I have confidence based on past trial participant results that I will feel much better and have some good non-cancer time before I have to go through treatment again.

It makes me thankful for good friends like, Jack, who are running in the NYC to raise money for the American Cancer Society to help support further research. There is still so much work to do, and so many of us will be touched by cancer during our lifetimes.

Jack's page below is very much from his heart. When I read it, I told Jack it was great, he just needed to set his target higher because I know so many people would want to support him!

All cancer stinks. There are many examples where different types have gone from CANCER to cancer through research, study and trials. Childhood leukemia is a great example. If you are looking for a create cause to support please consider supporting Jack in his run.  

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