You might just want to tune in next month to see what I really end up doing. It's changing all the time. The decision has been hard. I have made it, and then something comes up to make me think again.
I've had all this fight and no direction.
No decision is a great one at this point. I had to come to terms with what I'm dealing with here: late stage melanoma. It is what it is, and no one is going to tell me they have a great treatment. I just need something. I am going to give the vaccine a try.
And it's not because it's the easy way out. I'm telling them, "Amputate the dang leg! Pump into my veins the hardest chemo you have! Burn the entire body with radiation! Everything, and all at the same time!" None of this really works though. Different cancers respond to different treatments. Melanoma is not usually cured with any of these things (even amputation, trust me, if it worked they would do it). Some of those things can help, but the things that are working are immunological drugs. Finding a way to get the immune system to kill the cancer.
I should mention, melanoma is very curable if you surgically remove it before it invades other parts of your body. Once it metastasizes, it gets tricky. I'm not in the really tricky category (stage IV). Thank goodness!
This trial injects a modified herpes virus directly into your tumor every two weeks. They use an ultrasound to see where to put it and if it's responding. It replicates in only the cancer cells, killing them and sending off an immune response throughout your body to kill other cancer that may be lingering, or even other tumors far away from the one they are injecting. It's a good idea, but will it work?
The last trial was a Phase II and only had 50 patients enrolled. The results were good. Great for some people. I liked this article, http://oncolyticvirus.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/will-biovex-cure-melanoma-with-its-oncovex-oncolytic-virus/ which shows its response rates compared to the 'gold standard' proleukin which is part of biochemotherapy. There is a low response rate to biochemotherapy, but some people are complete responders (according to this article 6%) which means it gets rid of all the disease. For those complete responders they live a median of 5 years. So response rate is low, but is very effective in some people. They are claiming Ovcovex has a higher response rate, and a higher complete response rate.
The Oncovex website is: http://www.biovex.com/oncovex.html The results look promising for sure. I am a bit of a skeptic.
There are some things I don't like about the trial. The control arm for one. It's a drug that has been studied in patients who have had their tumors removed. It was found to lengthen time of relapse, not change overall survival. It has not been tested in people with active disease. There is a 1/3 chance I get randomized on this arm and if so I think we go back to surgery. We will know early next week.
This is what the 2 melanoma specialists have said they think is best. They say as soon as we see it's not working or we are uncomfortable with what is happening we drop off and take it out. But what if it works? This could be great.
And so? We inject.
And then? We wait. We pray. We hope. We take nothing for granted. We praise God for all he gives. We celebrate every sunrise. We give reverence to each sunset. We concoct green drinks. We eat salads full of veggies. We don't look back.
And then....we rip those tumors out if they don't respond. And we try something else.
And that is how we do it.