To: Family & Friends

Date: July 2, 2014

Subject: Hey, an update!

This was originally an email written to my family and friends on the date above. I decided to make these public in the event they may be helpful to someone in the future who is embarking on a similar journey to mine.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been doing well. I’m currently halfway through a week in Minnesota with Caitlin, Heather, Heather’s parents, and her brother’s family (our annual MN trip). I’ve done a little work travel as well, and have been getting out to the golf course regularly. We are planning to visit Seattle later in the month, and are looking forward to seeing friends and family there.

Work continues to go well; bringing new and interesting challenges that come with scaling a larger organization. I’m also still getting to work directly on the tech, which I really enjoy.

Caitlin just got a cast off her arm. She had fallen on the playground on Memorial Day weekend and broken the bones in her right arm near her wrist. They have healed well and she’s enjoying her re-found freedom. Casts are pretty cool these days. It was fiberglass and she could even go swimming with it.

On to the health update. After a total of 25 chemo treatments, the doctors determined that the chemo (FOLFOX, then FOLFIRI) was no longer being effective. A scan a few weeks back showed incremental growth in the lung tumors – up to about .5cm of growth in the previous 3 months and an enlarged lymph node in my lower back. The cancer cells learn and adapt to the chemo over time, so this was expected.

I’m now working with doctors at the University of Colorado cancer center to get access to clinical trials. I’ve got a spot in a trial that is a late phase 1 trial that uses two different drugs to try to block cancer cell growth at 2 different levels (the currently approved treatment only blocks at one level, and is typically only effective for a short period of time – the hope is that blocking at 2 levels will make it more effective, longer). My spot opens at the end of the month (and there is a 3-4 week “drying out” period required for clinical trials), so I’ll be enjoying a month off from chemo in the meantime.

A phase 2 trial means that the drugs have already been used on humans once, a phase 1 trial has only been tested on animals. In this case, the initial phase 1 trial showed that the initial dosage of one of the drugs was too much for people to handle, so it is being scaled back for the late phase 1 trial. The side effects look similar to the side effects of my most recent chemo treatments, plus some skin irritation (acne/rash) – at least on paper.

I also learned that immunotherapy, which looks very promising for other kinds of cancer, is not showing to be effective (so far) in colon cancer. The guess is that it has to do with the gut being home to so many different bacteria, etc. That’s a bummer.

I’ll let you all know how the new drugs are treating me in about a month or so; and any updates in the interim.

This post is part of the thread: Cancer – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.