Last week we got a call from Sarah Cannon Cancer Center that they wanted to see us. We assumed it was a mistake since nothing had really changed. The nurse called back, though, and confirmed that Dr. Bendell in Nashville had been talking with Dr. Lee here at home and they wanted to see if Rich was able to participate in a new trial. We had to bow out of the previous trial because it was an oral medication and Rich has a hole in his digestive track, making it hard to ensure he's actually getting the medication. At our last visit, Dr. Lee had mentioned that he thought they may be able to find a new trial that is an immunotherapy.
There is new technology these days that helps the body's immune system combat the cancer cells on their own, versus adding chemicals to kill the cancer and hopefully not kill the patient in the process.
The concept is that in addition to be aggressive in their growth, cancer cells also transmit a signal to the immune system to tell the body's immune system that they're legit and don't need to be killed off. It's a Jedi mind trick to tell your body that they are not the droids it is looking for.
Medical companies have developed a chemical that turns off the Jedi mind trick so that the body finally gets the memo that there are intruders that need annihilating. One of the exciting things about this drug is that in the early trials, even after the drug administration was ceased, the body continued to kill off cancer.
We have documents for two potential trials that Rich may be able to start within the coming month. These drugs are delivered intravenously, so we don't have to wait for his fistula to heal. It's also good that once the initial test period has passed, the drugs only need to be administered every three weeks or possibly even less often. That is great news in that we won't have to either move to Nashville or fly there weekly to get the drugs.
Dr. Bendell was ecstatic to see us and was particularly happy to see Rich looking so good. She said that based on everything she had heard from the surgery and aftermath, it was amazing he was walking around.
We talked about what we think happened back in May that caused so much trouble. Bendell's theory is that when the tumor shrank, it left a cavity in Rich's abdomen. As "nature abhors a vacuum," natural body bacteria filled that space and it allowed a warm, wet space to go gang busters and form an abscess. It wasn't anything necessarily avoidable, just bad luck.
That infection is removed and we're slowly making progress on healing. After the nurse handed over the paperwork, she said she would be in touch in a few weeks as soon as there was an opening in one of these trials. Rich turned to me and said, "That all sounds very promising." I responded, "Who are you and what did you do with my husband?" He smirked and then I knew it was really him.
So even Rich is optimistic about all of this, and that's saying something.
He said, "Based on what they all just said, it sounds like Dr. Shen thought I was going to die." I told him, "Dr. Shen told me as much when he got out of surgery. I just never told you because I didn't believe him and it didn't seem like helpful information. And look at you, sitting here, not dying."