I’ve had some good news these past couple of weeks. Yesterday, I had my 3 months CT scan and nothing had changed. That means I’ve been NED now for 14 months! Perhaps I’ve even begun to take this result for granted, as I forgot to let our kids know straight away. We are very thankful to God for this news and praying that things will stay this way. I’ve now been NED for longer than they expected me to live.
I remain on the chemo-cocktail of Alimta and Avastin every three weeks. These drugs have dealt with the cancer, and could be continuing to keep it from reemerging. I met with a new oncologist registrar today who expressed considerable surprise at the duration that I’ve been on chemo. He indicated that many people simply found it too hard and gave up, preferring to take their chances with the cancer rather than submit to further poison. He wasn’t aware of many patients who’ve had more than a dozen cycles of maintenance chemo. By God’s grace I’ve been able to cope with two and a half years of continuous chemo.
I’ve mentioned various times on this site that I have a mutation called ALK+ that is found in about 3% of the people with my type of lung cancer. There are now two generations of targeted therapies available to treat this mutation-driven cancer. These are typically taken as two tablets a day, every day, and have far less side effects. I haven’t started on any of these drugs as yet, because the chemo has been effective. The theory is that if something is working, then don’t change it. Targeted therapies remain genuine options for the future if the cancer rears it’s ugly head again. Over the past year one of these drugs, called Crizotnib, was being offered to ALK+ patients on a benevolent scheme for $100 a month or $1.67 a tablet. Sadly, this scheme was stopped on 1/7/14 and the cost of the drugs is now $7400 a month or $123 a tablet. Yep, that’s right! $88,800 per year, and if it keeps you alive for five years then you will have parted with $444,000. It will cost over $1million to live for 12 years.
Please pray that this will change. How many people are going to be able to afford that? How many will even earn that much?
Anyway—I have good news. My oncologist discovered that this was about to happen and so he quickly signed me up for the scheme. It remains in place for all who were registered on the scheme prior to 1 July, but unavailable to join after this time! So I now qualify for the $100 a month offer. Thank you God and thank you Mr Oncologist. $100 a month is an excellent insurance policy–even on top of the high costs of chemo–to save having to pay the astronomical amounts they’ve started charging.
If you are a praying person, then I’d covet your continued prayers. Please pray for my continued good health. Please also pray for patience and less anxiety for myself and those around me, because it is hard persisting with the treatment. And please pray that the government will provide subsidies for these brilliant new drugs so that they can be afforded by those who most need them.
Thanks for your support,