There’s a new kidney cancer-fighting cocktail out there and I am about to try it out. No, you can’t buy it at your local supermarket or health food store. This one is only available from a licensed oncologist.
As a current cancer patient, I am about to embark on my sixth type of treatment in four years to battle stage 4 kidney cancer. What a statement! Four years of receiving five previous types of treatment and by the grace of the Lord, I am still alive and kicking. Now I am getting ready for treatment #6.
This new cancer-fighting cocktail I am going to receive is a combination of two immunotherapy drugs. The first drug I have previously been treated with and is called, OPDIVO. Perhaps you have seen the commercial on television with the tagline, “A chance to live longer.” The second drug is called, YERVOY. What a name, Yervoy. It sounds like something you could pick up at Russian deli.
This combination has been shown to be very effective in treating metastatic kidney cancer in clinical trials. The FDA has put this treatment in the fast lane for approval for general use for kidney cancer. That is great news for kidney cancer patients like myself, especially now during kidney cancer awareness month.
Immunotherapy drugs are designed to boost a person’s own immune system to fight cancer cells with the body. These drugs have less toxic side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs for fighting cancer. I am very optimistic that this will treatment will be effective in beating the cancer cells into submission for myself and other patients.
Well a few days ago I had my first PET scan. No, it wasn’t done to determine whether I should get a cat or a dog as a pet. This is a scan to help my oncology team to determine the status of the current cancer treatment I am on. I usually only get a CT scan. However, I am not able to do a CT scan with contrast dye. I only have one kidney left, my left one, and my GFR is too low. So, this scan will allow my oncologist to get a better view of what is going on.
Apparently before the scan I was injected with a radioactive sugar solution. I had to wait in a special room with a very thick door and scary radioactive sticker on the door.
After a short while, I was brought into the room for the scan. It was a larger looking CT machine. I am very familiar with CT scans on this cancer journey. It usually takes 5 minutes and I’m done. This PET scan however was slightly different. It began with a short CT scan. Then the machine moved me all the way through the scanner. It would begin a series of scans from my head to the bottom of my abdomen region. Each set took about 3-5 minutes. The only problem I had was that my left shoulder began to ache from holding a “Superman” flying position with my arms during the scan. Finally, when I thought I could stand it no longer, the test came to a conclusion.
My wife and I met with my oncologist a couple of hours later. One of the aspects of being treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)that I love is getting lab and scan results quickly is. We got good news, the tumors in my lungs, liver, and lymph nodes seem to be stable with no new growth. So, the plan is to continue using Cabometyx
(aka Caboazantinib) for treatment and we will scan again in 3 months. He also reminded me that he has several other treatment options if Cabometyx ceases to be effective. So far I have been on this drug for one year and it is still providing me progression free survival. Thank you Lord Jesus!
As some of you may or may not be aware, I have been battling stage 4 kidney cancer since 2013. Let me rephrase that. My wife Tanisha and I have been battling this cancer since 2013. This cancer has invaded my body, but my wife is battling it just as hard as I am. I couldn’t make it on this journey with Jesus Christ and Tanisha by my side.
Since last December, I have been receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ. I have received excellent care from my oncology team. However, the distance to the clinic has always been a struggle. So, I have had to say “goodbye” to Mayo Clinic and go “home” again.
Where is home you may ask? Well in for my cancer care it’s a place in Goodyear, AZ called Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Why do I call it “home”? Well, I began my treatment for stage 4 cancer at CTCA in 2014. I spent two and half years surrounded by a staff of stakeholders, clinicians, and doctors that genuinely cared about my treatment and well-being. These wonderful folks have been with my wife and I when the cancer closed in and nearly took my life in the early months of treatment. Then they rejoiced with my wife and I when the tumors began to shrink and some of the severe effects began to loosen their grip. This team of people make a hospital for cancer patients feel more like a home than a hospital. They are like family.
Do you remember the TV series “Cheers”? Each time the character of Norm would walk into the bar, his friends erupted and said, “Norm!”. They knew him and were excited to see him enter this fictional bar. Each time I walk through the sliding doors of CTCA I can hear someone on staff say, “John!”. What a great feeling!
It is for this reason, that I am so glad I have made it back home. I was able to meet with my new oncologist this week. I was very glad to hear the treatment plan he has in mind moving forward in this fight against cancer. Once again, I can walk the main corridor of the center and meet fellow patients as we encourage each other in this journey and fight.
Houston. We have shrinkage.
My wife Tanisha and I received some great news last week concerning my treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer. The tumors are shrinking. I have been on my 5th line of treatment in the past 3 years. I am now on a targeted oral therapy called Cabometyx. I have been on this drug for 3 months now. I started off at a low dose of 40 mg and am now tolerating 60 mg dose. The scans showed that many of the tumors that are spread to my lungs, liver, and lymph nodes have shrunk by almost half of their size from a scan 3 months ago.
They also did some lab work and an echocardiogram. The test showed my heart is still healthy and functioning well. The labs showed my thyroid has a low function. They have put me on a low dose thyroid medicine for now. The next CT scan is scheduled for late June.
We are so thankful for this wonderful, encouraging news. The Lord Jesus has been faithful throughout this journey of battling cancer. I thank Him for sustaining me through all the procedures, treatments, and side effects. Thank you all for your prayers.
Well it has been too long since my last update. A lot has changed since then so I will bring you up to date. I had been receiving treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer at Cancer Treatments Centers of America in Phoenix (CTCA). As of December of 2016 my wife and I decided to change treatment centers to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. We had been thinking of changing care facilities for several months prior to making the change.
CTCA was a great place for cancer care for my first two years of treatment. However, this last year we noticed that the changes management was instituting were not positive to my overall care.
My new oncologist is an expert in the area of kindey cancer and runs the clinical trials at Mayo Clinic Phoenix. He ordered a battery of new scans and blood tests to get a baseline to start my treatment. I had never had a CT scan using contrast before. I finally received a CT scan with the contrast and it proved most valuable in determining what was going on in my body. It showed that the cancer was more widespread than previously thought. It has now invaded my lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and left kidney.
I have been given a new targeted therapy drug to attempt to combat the cancer. It is called, Cabometyx. It was approved by the FDA recently and has had good success in clinical trials. This drug is now my 5th line of treatment. My oncologist has told my wife and I that if this doesn’t slow down or shrink the tumors my survival will be spoken of in terms of months. However, we are trusting in Christ our Lord for complete healing of this disease. I thank all of you for your continued prayers and support.
I recently had an MRI on my brain. I had been experiencing headaches and they wanted to make sure the tumors hadn’t spread to the brain. Praise the Lord! There was no evidence of tumors in the brain. The LORD is definitely at work here.
The title to this post should send a sense of dread and anxiety to most people. I know I felt that way yesterday when I was strongly urged by my wife to get a checkup from our new dentist. My family just started a new dental plan, so we decided to make Perfect Smile Dental Care our new dental clinic. I must confess I haven’t been to the dentist in over 10 years, so I was fearing a very bad report. I had visions of painful dental x-rays and prodding metal instruments in my mouth. Not to mention hearing the old Bill Cosby “Dentist” routine in my head. Thankfully, none of that was the case. This office had all of the latest technology and a very friendly staff. I was offered a bottle of water while I waited for my appointment. There was very little paperwork to fill out. In fact, most of it was done in the dentist chair electronically.
Now as you might imagine, keeping away from dental cleanings for 10 years does come with a price. There is the need for not just one visit, but a few to get my teeth and gums back to health. However, Dr. Bajoria and the hygienist were re-assuring and comforting in my visit. I felt at ease and am confident that they will do a fantastic job at getting my dentistry back on track. My wife on the other hand, had a simple cleaning and very few issues with her teeth. Now her beautiful smile is even lovelier. Now, instead of dreading my dental appointments in the future I think I will not mind them nearly as much.
What is your current view on diet and healthy eating? Are you finding yourself “living to eat” or “eating to live”? I have been practicing the former view of eating for all of my teen and adult years. Before I got married in 2011 I was a frequent guest of the fast food eateries. You may know this scenario: Breakfast at McDonalds, followed by lunch at Subway, and finally dinner at Carl’s Jr. As a result my pants sizes seemed to increase regularly and my blood sugar numbers did the same. As a person who has been diagnosed over 10 years ago with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure this is not a good formula for health.
After having had my right kidney removed earlier this year due to kidney cancer I recently started a journey of moving towards a healthy lifestyle. Part of this journey involves seeing myself as looking and being healthy in the future. This involves a change in attitude and mental outlook. There are still thoughts of running out and eating a large pizza in my head, so again this is a journey. These thoughts of gorging on food that has lots of calories and fat, but not real nutrition are slowly beginning to fade away.
There are other changes that have moved me towards an “eating to live” mentality. My family recently purchased a NutriBullet. You may have seen the infomercial on TV recently. I have been using this superfood extractor for the past few weeks to create healthy, nutritious smoothies. My wife claims she has noticed a difference in my waist and in my more positive outlook. Could this change in eating healthier and getting more nutrients solved my overall mental outlook? It would appear so from the evidence.
So what is your outlook on food and health? Do you ‘live to eat’ or ‘eat to live’? I will be posting more on the topic of health as I learn more and see the changes in my own health first hand. Stay Tuned.
Tags: Health, Nutrition
I have recently added a new category on this site. The category is simply entitled, “health”. But, you may ask, “What does health have to do with knowing Christ?” After all I have created this site to record thoughts and ideas on knowing Christ personally. Well, the Bible tells us, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” 1 Cor 6:19 (NLT) If you are a believer, you and I are indwelt by Christ himself. God no longer and never has desired to dwell in a building made by human hands. He has always desired to dwell in the hearts of men and women and now this is possible through the death and resurrection of Christ. So the apostle Paul points out that our very bodies are no longer our own. We have to remember that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit as well.
I know that many men love to compartmentalize their lives. I have been one of those men who practiced this concept. There is a spot for relationships, career, leisure, church, God, etc. These categories are all separated and have no connection with one another in the typical male mindset. Yet, this is not a proper perspective to hold to in life. For a believer if we are to make Jesus our Lord, then he has to be Lord over every area of our lives and not just the one’s we would choose. This would include the area of our health. So I have included this as a category to this site so that I can also record thoughts and ideas that surround my journey to living a healthier lifestyle.