Treatment 24 of the immunotherapy drug is in the books my friends! Mike had a long, long day at Ohio State last Friday with scans and treatment. The scans showed stability, and no growth in the tumor. It still measures around 5 x 6 centimeters( think about that), but it is hard to know how much of that is dead tumor tissue. We asked the Dr about that, and she said that sometimes the body absorbs some of the dead tissue, some of the tissue may be thrown up, and some of it just stays in the body as dead tumor tissue.
They put more emphasis on how Mike feels, and how his pain is, and whether he is digesting food. He is doing great, up to 176 pounds, and has been feeling pretty well considering he has a 5 x 6 cm tumor inside of him!
Of course it is natural for us to talk to the Dr about what to expect after we are done with this treatment. He has another year or so of treatments available to him if he continues to do well on it, and there is evidence that the Keytruda continues to work for a period of time even after you stop treatment. The dr said on Friday that if he has a relapse after the trial is over, that they will put him back on the immunotherapy. They don’t have data available yet on how well a patient responds to immunotherapy after a recurrence, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.
Since we were talking about it, we asked her what the study results are showing in terms of how much time the average trial participant has before relapse. She said it is really too early to say, but they are seeing a 20-24 month average before relapse, but have some patients who are still NED (no evidence of disease). Of course we hope we are in the group of no relapse!
After his treatment, Mike went to West Virginia and spent the weekend with his son, doing what men and their sons do, and getting quality time together. He has been golfing every opportunity he gets, thinking of buying himself a “I survived cancer” gift which we are still *ahem* discussing, and we are busy planning for a future we didn’t think we would have only a few months ago!