Targeted Therapy

Hope: New Treatment with Cancer

Now we know: the chemo isn’t exactly working. Maybe a little because the tumor marker tests finally leveled off. But the cat scan showed progression, meaning growth. 

Another main reason I was removed from chemo was that I began running fevers and felt ongoing, horrible, flu-like body aches, pains and exhaustion so that I ended up in the day hospital for fluids and tests (thankfully this was before COVID 19 became an issue). “Feeling good days” became a distant memory. I pretty much stayed home the month of February near my bed and couch, which called me with such a sweet siren song that I needed a “help me, I’ve fallen in bed and can’t get out” alarm.

These past two years I have taken the two “standard of care” cocktails for pancreatic cancer. As with many metastatic cancers, tumor cells mutate and become resistant to treatment and the chemo stops working. Pancreatic cancer cells are masters at this.

Time to move on in treatment. 

I have had genetic testing of my own DNA (called germline testing) and of the tumor itself (called molecular profiling). I have a gene mutation that caused my pancreatic cancer. This good knowledge opens the door for a few more options in treatment.

The press always heralds amazing new treatments for cancers, but these are for other cancers, not pancreatic cancer. Well, well well – December 30, 2019 – the FDA approved the first new treatment for pancreatic cancer in FOUR YEARS!  

So, I am going on….a new drug…. a daily pill chemo …..Lynparza….

  • -a targeted therapy – which means it targets a specific process in the cancer tumor cells.  
  • -a PARP inhibitor – which means it blocks the cell’s DNA ability to duplicate, stopping growth. 
  • -it hits the tumor cell where it hurts.

It still has all those wonderful, unwelcomed, life impacting side effects.  Oh joy!

It also isn’t actually FDA approved for my specific genetic mutation, which is the ATM gene.  It is approved for the BRCA gene for pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancer. 

After an appeal, my insurance company magnanimously agreed to pay for my off-brand treatment. Very impressive! It’s not cheap.

So, we don’t know if this will work. It’s kind of an experiment, but not actually an experiment.

I have faith. The approval came so close to St. Patrick’s day, that somehow I magically believe I might have the luck of the Irish with this treatment. I’m also hoping my Irish Mom is smiling down on this one!

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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

4 thoughts on “Targeted Therapy”

  1. Hi Kathy- so glad your insurance approved the new treatment. Miracles are happening everyday! You are such an informed patient and you break down the jargon just like a teacher😀 You’re in my prayers and glad your fighting like a mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy you are a pillar of strength, faith and
    Determination. I love you. MK

    Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love staying up to date and the way you write is informative, yet personal and so very human. You distill things down to where it is understandable. Congrats on getting your appeal through insurance. Best of luck. We love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Kathy – that is such great news that the insurance company agreed to pay for this new treatment! It is exciting that you are able to use this brand new released treatment and I pray for positive results! Sending loads of love and positive thoughts your way!

    Liked by 1 person

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