Then HealthWell Foundation Ran Out of Funds for my Tagrisso Co-Pay

I never thought cancer drug crisis would be knocking on my door. In my five-year journey, everything had been rosy. I received charitable foundation funding for Tarceva straight away, got admitted in a clinical trial on first attempt, and was offered another foundation funding for Tagrisso without any effort on my part. Awesome things just kept falling on my lap.

Then crisis struck. I had just completed my fourth month on Tagrisso and called the pharmacy for the fifth month refill when the boom fell. We have a problem, said the specialty pharmacy employee (SP) over the phone. She continued, The HealthWell Foundation ran out of money to help you with your co-pay.

What? I recently recently donated to the HealthWell fund-raising campaign. Obviously the campaign did not raise enough money.  My pittance of a donation did not  not make a difference.

I asked SP, Will you ship my Tagrisso pills without receiving payment first?  I promise to pay as soon as I decide which bank provides the most conducive robbery escape route.  Of course not, she said.  You need to pay $101.85 in advance to cover your co-pay for the month supply.  The amount shocked me.  I could have used that to pay my smartphone bill.  I got to thinking, How much would it have been if HealthWell totally did not contribute? I asked SP.  She replied, $653.24 for a month’s supply.  My shock increased sixfold! I immediately paid the lower amount just in case the worse has yet to come.  UPS delivered Tagrisso pills to my home two days later.

To give me hope for the immediate future, SP told me she got financial assistance request forms from Astra Zeneca (AZ), the manufacturer of Tagrisso.  She gave the forms directly to my Onc.  He had to fill out a part and I had to do the rest.  To complete my portion, I had to request documents from the IRS to prove that I did not have to file income tax returns for 2016, the year my husband Octo died.  I qualified for filing exemption as a newly-widowed taxpayer.  According to the IRS website, most requests take 10 days processing time.

With exactly 13 pills left (of the 30 pills for which I had sprung $101.85) and a ten-day wait for the IRS response,  the co-pay subsidy situation seemed bleak.  Where would I get $7,800 a year for my co-pay?  I twiddled my thumbs then glanced at the mirror to see how my hair, which I’m letting grow longer, looked.

I kept wishing the IRS would reply faster so I could put its document in the envelop along with my financial assistance application and mail it to AZ before my Tagrisso supply dwindled to zero.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, my Onc Dr Smiley’s RN phoned and told me Dr Smiley received authorization to prescribe Tagrisso for me.  AZ will fill it for free! She added, All you need to do is drop by and sign a document.  I will fax it back to AZ immediately.

What?!!  Is another awesome thing fixing to fall on my lap?

I will keep you posted of the developments.  I have a very few Tagrisso pills left.

Do you have a similar situation? Let’s talk about it.

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The Author,  Celia Ruiz Tomlinson, just figured out how to do a caption. Hah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swollen Feet and Ankles

Nowadays, each time I notice any little unwelcome change in my body, my finger is ready to point to cancer and anything related to it as the culprit.  One day last January, I noticed my feet and ankles were swollen, a mysterious condition that I had never experienced before. Having survived many mysterious ailments decades after surviving statutory age, I put swollen feet and ankles in the blame game department. Right off the bat,  I wanted to declare the swelling as a side effect of the Tagrisso pills but I couldn’t.  They hadn’t been shipped to me yet at that time!

As usual, I did my sleuthing. How did that happen? How could I suddenly have swollen feet and ankles? I thought only pregnant women got them. Or women from third-world countries that still have the disease called beriberi. Even when I was pregnant I never had swollen feet and ankles, but my breasts became swollen with milk for the infant right after childbirth. Those I liked because they made me look voluptuous overnight.

I consulted my RN friend in Albuquerque.  Over the phone she gave me a mini-course on swollen feet and ankles based on her education and experience. After the session, you’d think I would have been satisfied and put the issue to rest.  Oh no, not me. I’m an engineer.  I have the need to know.  Why do feet and ankles swell?  To find out, I returned to Google University (GU) and audited the course Swollen Ankles 101.

I searched GU only for what applied to my case. After all it’s all about me, which takes me back to the mother of all disclosures: I am not giving medical advice here. Remember I am a retired civil engineer who at the peak of relevance was only concerned about sewage flowing downhill. And it usually did, and still does, unless someone pumped it out of a place where it is not moving and hauled it somewhere where it can do its thing – flow downhill.

  1. Consumption of too much sodium causes feet and ankles to swell. After reading that statement, the light bulb over my head went like the flashing light on a police car. It made sense! My episode of swollen feet and ankles had immediately followed my bacterial lung infection event. During the coughing disturbance, I needed lots of liquids – water, tea, beer, soups – to help get rid of the mucus from my body.  I toyed with the notion of concocting from scratch the hearty chicken soup that everybody and his brother swear as sure cure for cough and cold but I couldn’t. There was not one dead chicken in the freezer.  The bed also beckoned me to loll. I resorted to canned soups, which had never been part of my eating regimen. For some reason, the canned soups tasted yummy those days, especially Trader Joe’s clam chowder. Its label on the can said, three (3) servings per can. No way, I argued with the label, One serving per can! And I ate the soup to my heart’s content over and over. During the sleuthing process, I re-read the label on the can.  It says one serving contains 800 milligrams (mg) of sodium.  Did the math: 3 servings in one sitting equal 2400 mg of salt. According to the Dietary Guidelines, persons 55 and older should not consume over 1500 mg of sodium per day. Conclusion: I ate waaaaay too much salt over a period of 21 days. No wonder my feet morphed into fat burritos.
  2. To treat swollen feet and ankles, elevation is the key.  Site after site in GU assured me that swollen ankles and feet are common and usually not cause for concern, unless accompanied by pain in other parts of the body or other symptoms that could signal a serious health issue.  No other malady symptoms accompanied my swollen feet and ankles.  After reading the encouraging paragraph, I wanted to do cartwheels to celebrate but I couldn’t.  My feet and ankles weighed like lead.  The theory behind the swelling of feet and ankles is simple and makes sense. Sodium is an element that plays a key role in regulating water in the cells of the human body, among other functions. Excess sodium makes the body hold extra fluids in the cells. Like the sewage in the sewer pipe, the water in the cells flows downhill. Gravity takes the excess water to the feet and ankles. There I had it!  To get rid of the swelling, I needed the help of gravity to return the water back to circulation. But how much more downhill can it be if downhill starts from the head then down to toes?  Solution: elevation!  I got a pillow and put it on top of the dining table. I sat on my favorite chair and propped my feet on the ingenious engineering contraption. My feet were higher than my waist.  I elevated my feet and ankles for 20 minutes every hour that day.  Okay. I must confess. My consultant and GU did plant the elevation idea in my head but I worked out the specs and details of the contraption. Bottom line: Elimination of sodium and elevation of the feet resolved the swelling issue after a few days.

Although I’ve been careful with my sodium intake and generally staying in my good behavior, my ankles still swell occasionally. Minor swelling. It’s a good thing I’m not into ankle bracelets. What I do when the swelling happens is I review the day’s immediate past activities and try to figure out what triggered it. I find that too much walking or prolonged sitting or standing causes it. Who knows! But surely, one thing happens when I elevate those feet up a few times for 20 minutes each time: The fluids mosey on back to circulation and allow the ankles to look sexy again…to a certain segment of the population. So I read.

One Tagrisso Story

So HealthWell Foundation (HWF) had no issues with the Specialty Pharmacy’s application on my behalf for the $3K+ monthly co-payment of Tagrisso.  Within two days of hearing its name, I received HWF’s letter that screamed APPROVED on the heading! It told me to contact the Specialty Pharmacy to get the delivery of the pills started.  How can anyone not be impressed with such speedy service?

However at the same precise moment I also received a letter from the Specialty Pharmacy alarming me that the information in my file was incomplete and they could not finish the application process on my behalf and to call them as soon as possible to avoid delay! Fortunately, the recipient of the wildly conflicting messages is an awesome genius who completely understands the shortcomings of mere mortals. I picked up my smart phone and with a little tremble in my voice, feigned confusion, but in the end, simply asked, Okay, when are you shipping the Tagrisso? And the rep answered, Tomorrow. Be sure to be at home to sign for it otherwise the delivery guy will turn around and take the package back with him. I could not imagine the bureaucracy that would ensue if such an event happened. She gave me the tracking number, which I handily found in the UPS’ hi-tech tracking system.  It showed time delivery window: Between 6:30 a.m. and closing time, which was 7:00p.m.  I thought, Wow! That pins it down close enough. I spoke to a UPS representative and played a scenario for her when she couldn’t make the delivery window smaller:  What if I wait all day and it’s already 7:00p.m. and the package has not yet arrived?  She replied, That means there are too many deliveries and he’ll keep delivering packages until you get yours.  That knocked me for a loop.  I had bought my tiny manor in the retirement-resort-living-at-its-best to sunbathe near the hot whirlpool or rub elbows with fun people at events during the day, then sleep in the manor at night. Pacing the manor carpet for 12 straight hours had never occurred to me.

Living alone, I had no choice but to hang around the manor to wait. It happens when the Diva’s days of delegating tasks are long gone. So wait for the UPS dude, I did. I was sure about the dude thing because I have never received a UPS delivery from a dudette. Finally, at around 5:00 p.m., my hero came bearing the package. He gave it to me in exchange for my signature on his hand-held computer tracker.

I tore into the corrugated carton box like mad and found (1) a plastic bottle containing 30 Tagrisso pills inside a see-through plastic bag marked Chemotherapy and (2) Product literature – everything one ever wants to know about Tagrisso: side effects, conflicts with other drugs,  the sun, people, etc. I had a major concern: What about wine or beer? It said, Limit alcohol consumption. Aha! There’s a margin for tolerance. I liked that.  I had another question: When is the best time to take Tagrisso? It said, Take it once a day at the same time everyday so you don’t forget it. Take it with or without food.

It was almost 6:00p.m. and a hot deliberation was raging in my head.  Should I take the first pill now? Why not? What good does it do to wait for tomorrow? I remember reading that tomorrow waits for no one. The literature said one of the reported side effects is shortness of breath. What if I have shortness of breath while I’m snoring? I could wake up dead in the morning! Maybe that’s the reason to wait for crack of dawn, take the first pill, then have all day to monitor side effects like dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, yada, yada. Nah. Why did the Tagrisso docs not express themselves exactly against taking the very first pill at night?  All the pill container said on the label was, This drug may impair your ability to drive or operate machinery. No prob. I had no immediate plans to operate a backhoe that night. It also said USE CARE until you become familiar with its effects. Define CARE.  I concocted a couple of lame definitions that lead me to the eureka moment: Today is the day. Tonight I take my very first pill and henceforth every 6:00p.m. every day.  I bravely swallowed one 0.5cm x 1.5cm 80mg oval pinkish pill, chug-a-lugged a glass of water, and plastered a smile of satisfaction across my face.

Just before I hit the sack, I remembered something –  to allow for some drama should shortness of breath occur in the middle of the night. When I laid me down to sleep, I positioned my arms like an X on top of my chest a la Cleopatra minus the crooks.

Around 3:00 a.m. my  stomach growled and woke me up.  I was starved.  It happens when my blood glucose is around 75 or 80. My body talks to me, I listen and obey.  But wait! As I was walking to the kitchen to fix me something to silence my stomach, I remembered the very first Tagrisso coursing through every cell of my body.  Was I having side effects? Obviously I did not have a shortness of breath but a shortness of chow! Maybe something else had happened. I rushed to the bathroom and inspected my body for signs of side effects that I had read from posts at Inspire.  Rashes on the face or body? None. Headache? Dizzy? Pain? Nope.  Grandma Honey had written about her eyelashes growing long, like they did on Tarceva.  I inspected mine, ready to bat them shamelessly if they had grown a millimeter during the past 9 hours. Nothing there. Finding nothing untoward, I devoured my midnight snack and crawled back to bed.

I’ve been on Tagrisso for half a month now and have seen zero side effects.  Nothing. No nausea, headaches, diarrhea, rashes, shortness of breath, dry skin, cracking nails, mouth sores. Nothing. I wonder if Tagrisso is doing something or just sitting there. That’s the same thing I said during the first four months of zero side effects on my CO-1686.

That’s my Tagrisso story. I’d love to hear yours, if you have any.

My CO-1686: Something Old, Something New

Once with cancer, always with cancer.  When a scan report says Stable, all it means is No evidence of progression was found during that imaging session.  If the report says NED,  it’s No Evidence of Disease.  In both cases the nasties are there, surreptitiously floating around.  Those statements or some words to that effect were drilled into my head at the very beginning of my cancer journey.  The message: Be clear on that concept.  I got it.

Last month’s events would have freaked out worry-warts but not the self-proclaimed veteran of several medical battles.  However, the events gave me pause but only to allow my mind to explore positive steps to take if or when ugly news about the menacing tumor at the bottom of my left lung confronted me. After that, I moved on to matters over which I have control like trip planning, fine dining, and toenail clipping.

But first, my new primary care physician  (PCP), a gerontologist, a doctor specialized in medical issues of people waaaay past puberty, just had to double down the harrowing events.  He ordered me to get a mammogram! I protested tremendously.  I had already given up the mammogram thing three decades ago after the first one, plus in the CO-1686 clinical trial, I have been having thoracic and abdomen CTscans every nine weeks.  From my studies of the human anatomy at Google University (GU), I know the thoracic area definitely includes the breasts.

Dr PCP wouldn’t take no for an answer, adamant that a different imaging technology is used for the breasts.  I also did not want to push my luck and get thrown out of his patients list. At our initial doctor/patient fact-finding interview, after I had given him all the information about my ailments and those of my blood relatives dead and alive, my past and present medications and surgeries, he asked, Is there anything else about you that I should know?  I asked back, my inscrutable beady eyes a-glint with mischief, You really want to know? Yes, he responded with conviction. Okay, I said, if you really must know: I question doctors. His face cracked an enigmatic smile.

So off to my second mammogram screening in three decades I shuffled. At the breast clinic, I noticed that the mammogram motions had not changed in 30 years. As the female technician pulled the first breast and shoved it under the automatic-garage-door-like contraption, I wondered if in these days of unisex permissiveness, male mammogram technicians abound.  I did not ask the bubbly millennial who seemed to thoroughly enjoy her work. Soon the pulling and shoving were over.

One week later, the breast clinic summoned me with urgency to return for a mammogram diagnostic because the radiologist had seen psomething unusual about my right breast. I thought, That’s it. The lung cancer has not only risen from the dead, it has metastasized to the breast. I’ve become a two-cancer senior babe. When it rains it pours!

So, back to the clinic I surrendered the C-cups one more time. Ms Bubbles focused entirely on the right one. She said hopefully she would not have to do an ultrasound.  She pulled and shoved, took x-ray images and eyeballed them. Uh-oh, we do need an ultrasound, she declared, and led me to the ultrasound room.

I have always associated ultrasound with the determination of the gender of a fetus in mama’s womb. Are you looking for a baby? I asked, as she slid the mouse over every square centimeter of the breast.  She answered, If I find a baby up here, we’re in big trouble. And we laughed. In a minute, the job was done. I’ll show the result to the radiologist, she said and rushed out the door. In a moment, she returned, the female radiologist ahead of her.

You’re good! the radiologist beamed. See you next year. And the two left me unceremoniously.  Just as well because I found myself suddenly speechless.

Learn something new everyday is my mantra. Here’s what I learned from the mammogram experience. Women’s breasts are not only calipered, as in 34A or 44D, they are also density defined: normal, heterogeniously dense, and extremely dense. In some states, including CA, the law requires doctors to notify women with dense breasts. The intent is to make them more vigilant, which makes sense because a dense breast is like a rainforest. Cancer is difficult to see and requires extra technological maneuverings.

Two days later, I had the CTscan that would determine the fate  of the flying saucer at the bottom of my left lung. Five days later, I did the blood tests and Dr Brevity and I met to discuss the outcomes.

Dr Brevity is a straight shooter.  He said the flying saucer measurements increased a very tiny bit and still not considered progression by RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors) rules. But there is something new in the CTscan report. It talks about a 2.5 cm tumor sitting on top of the right adrenal. Where is the adrenal? I asked. It’s a gland on top of the kidney. His turn to ask: Do you have any pains? How are you feeling in general?  I feel awesome. No pain, no fatigue, no shortness of breath. I have boundless energy, voracious appetite, and many more upbeat stuff I wanted to say but didn’t. I did not think overselling would knock the adrenal occupier off its perch. My turn to ask: What are we going to do about the tumor? His answer: Nothing, because you have no pain. What?! What a weird thing to hear – doing nothing to a nodule in someone with cancer because she suffers no pain.

Since progression has not been established, I continue to stay under the trial umbrella. Dr Brevity gave me a fresh supply of Poksceva for my 47th cycle on CO-1686. To determine what the mysterious adrenal occupier is and if there are other parts in my body that might light up like the night sky of July 4th, he ordered a PETscan and an MRI. He also ordered a liquid biopsy to get ahead of the treatment game if certain mutations are found lurking in the blood.  He also told me to ask Dr PCP to get my insurance company’s authorization for my continued participation at Club Med.  How can I not love back Dr Brev!

Meanwhile, I needed to get answers to my questions about tumors that suddenly pop up atop the adrenal. The GU scholar went to work, in hot pursuit of power through knowledge. If not me, who? If not now, when? I love that argument!

This I learned: Any one of two types of tumor can suddenly grow on top of anybody’s adrenal: (a) cancerous, called cortical carcinoma.  Or (b) benign, called benign (duh!) adenoma.  According to the American Cancer Society, a 5 cm to 6 cm tumor, about 2 to 2.5 inches, is considered cancer. That’s the length of an average jalapeno.  Imagine that object banging against the other organs near the kidney.  It would definitely inflict pain.  That’s why nothing is done to a measly 2.5cm tumor or anything under 4 cm.  It just sits there like a blob. Sometimes it resolves.  My body welcomes a blob as long as it stays measly. However, the possibility exists that the blob can grow as massive as a brick, bear down on my poor right kidney and bully the other organs around, sending me writhing in pain. That’s the time doctors will consider surgery to save the Drama Queen.  Okay. GU never expressed the tumor’s morphing in those terms.  Such description happens only when the blogger, an Investigation Discovery junkie, gets distracted by an occasional sci-fi movie.

Otherwise, everything else in the CTscan and blood reports is copacetic. But the Feisty Heifer’s hackles have sure been raised a bit!

My CO-1686 Dateline: West Coast

I’ve taken my act to the West Coast – closer to Hollywood – by popular demand from my fans. That would be my husband and my son. The growth in the fan department has been anemic, but the quest to be discovered continues full speed ahead! The move from Albuquerque, NM to Southern Orange County, CA certainly would cut down our house-to-clinic mileage, save on hotel and gas expenses, and give me generous access to In-and-Out Burgers. Let’s not forget sushi bars in every street corner. I’m hooked on raw Omega-3. But of course, I’ll miss the world-renowned Good Doctor. We did not have the opportunity to do the “abrazo-beso” kind of goodbye but we managed to email our sentiments. I’m sure he’ll not miss me, but I’d bet there’s a spot in his busy brain for Brazen Tarceva Diva. There are not many of that ilk floating around.

One would think CO-1686 is CO-1686 anywhere – inside or outside the United States, on the Rocky Mountains, or at the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The trial honchos in UCLA own me now. Starting from Cycle 9 of the trial, my official nose-pullers will be the trial site healthcare professionals at THE UCLA. Go Bruins!

My first visit with the New Good Doctor (NGD) started one week early. I had to make sure all the medical records were transferred and referrals for insurance purposes were submitted. I signed more papers than the law allowed. Then, as the appointed hour of eyeball-to-eyeball meeting with NGD drew closer, the physician liaison emailed me instructions consisting of reminders about the papers that I had already signed, all medical records that needed to be transferred and insurance documents. Belts and suspenders kind of thing. The instructions also included a map of and written directions to NGD’s office, a sheet of paper showing the parking rates and methods of payments, five pages of medical history forms that I seem to fill out every time I step inside a hospital zone, and a frightening e-mail consent form that instructs a patient in painful details how to compose and use an e-mail according to California Healthcare Law. I’m already missing the more democratic emailing process at the Rocky Mountain site!

October 8, 2014

WOW is the word for my first day at UCLA! The beauty and efficiency of the facility blew me away! When I went from Albuquerque, NM to Aurora, CO, I, the hick from the sticks of the medical world, immediately saw the difference. I thought, Whoa, this is how the big boys play. Then UCLA! I said WOW, this is how the bigger boys play. Believe the rating system!

The day started with the Medical Assistant showing me, a new patient, around. There’s coffee or hot chocolate there, he said. I liked that. Then a Med Tech, a lovely Peruvian young lady, took my vitals: Blood pressure super good; weight where I want it to be after 15 pounds lost; height no shrinkage no gain. Then she did the ECG. Perfect. She did not do a second one after two hours. Beginning Cycle 9, only one ECG is done.

While I was still lying face up on the examination table, Miss Peruvian drew 15 yes, fifteen, vials of blood. I wondered what happened to TEN, the number for the earlier cycles. While it did not hurt, it seemed like she took forever. My husband told me later that he watched the bloodletting process and noted that my blood flowed rather slowly. My blood had gotten thicker in the west coast! Maybe it’s all the menudo and wasabi that I’d been consuming! We decided later that next time gravity might help speed the flow in the sitting-down position.

Then came the Trial Coordinator with more paperwork to sign. She said there have been amendments to the trial protocol to which I needed to agree. I came to UCLA with an agreeable frame of mind so I went signing and initialing away. Everybody was happy.

And drum roll….entered the new Good Doctor! A young man with a shock of dark curly hair framing a handsome face, he was a hottie! He has the perfect height. I have a thing against doctors or waiters who are too tall for their jobs. Obviously my Onc’s Onc and he had had a small conversation about the new girl in town (that would be me) and he smiled a lot baring a beautiful set of teeth.

We reviewed my glucose numbers. Fasting glucose up to 150 is good but he wants daytime glucose readings to be under 200. He said Metformin 2000mg will make that happen. I talked to him how Metformin gives this bitter taste in my throat, as if I had been licking a tin can of sardines all day. He prescribed the time-release version, which he said, is easier on the digestive system. He prescribed Flonase for my post-nasal drip. I can’t convince any of the Oncs that the post-nasal drip is a side effect of Metformin. For his final act, he went through the stethoscope motions on me.

With that, we planned on seeing each other in another three weeks at which time I get my nine-week scans.

I had a sense of excitement leaving the new clinical trial site after the first day. I got the cartwheel feeling again, but man, LA traffic is not conducive for that kind of activity.

Cancer Diagnosis is Not a Death Sentence

When I was on Tarceva, in the wee hour of one morning, I had an epiphany. As I was traipsing in the dark to the bathroom to take my miracle pill, the glow of the power light of my cell phone on the vanity gripped my attention. I stared at it, and lo and behold, the color of the light changed mysteriously from red to green. My heart pounded.

“Honey,” I whispered in a voice a tad loud for one o’clock in the morning.

“What?!” My startled husband asked. He was now sitting on the edge of the bed, his head buried in his hands.

I described to him the phenomenon that I had just witnessed.

“Oh for crying out loud. You’re an engineer. You know it means the phone’s battery is now completely charged.”

“Yes,” I admitted sheepishly. “But I have been waiting for a signal from the cosmos to proceed with my long-overdue bestseller.”

“So be it.” He flung himself on the bed and covered his head with a pillow.

So be it. Those sweet supportive words from the lips of my loving caregiver gave me the final push to get on with my writing project. But first I had to ensure there are no existing books on cancer and humor. I went to the neighborhood library and researched, and sure enough, I found a book titled “Cancer on $5 a Day* * chemo not included.” Written by comedian Robert Schimmel with Alan Eisenstock, it is about how humor got the comedian through his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same cancer that claimed Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ life. My discovery of the book filled me with disappointment. Someone’s gotten ahead of me again. Story of my life. Always behind. It all started in grade school when the class would fall in line alphabetically. With the surname starting with “R,” I was always near the end of the line, craning my neck over and around classmates to see what’s going on way out front.

I grudgingly checked the book out. The image of the comedian’s gaunt face covers much of the jacket. The book contains only 189 pages. Good. I figured, even with Adenocarcinoma Stage IV, I’ll live long enough to read it from cover to cover and return it early to avoid a penalty fine. If I intend to straddle my heirs with debt, it will be for a timeshare in Mexico, not for a library penalty fee. I started reading the book. It’s hilarious. Everything rings true – of dreams mercifully cut short, anxieties, denials, etc. The comedian and his writer did a fabulous job. Then, halfway through the book, I stopped. Somehow I felt like I had known the comedian for years. I revisited the image of his haggard face on the jacket and took note of the book’s publication date: 2008. That’s five years ago. Cancer must have already claimed the life of this man who valiantly brought laughter to sufferers as he himself fought the dreaded disease. Cancer be damned, I muttered to myself. To verify my suspicion, I googled his name, and voila, I was right! Robert Schimmel is already dead. He was killed in a car accident in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2010.

So there you have it. Cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Who knows! I might live long enough to get Alzheimer’s. And that would be scary to my heirs.

What’s your opinion about cancer diagnosis?

CO-1686 vs Diva’s Lung Cancer: The Verdict So Far

June 2, 2014 – June 3, 2014

It’s the Battle of the Stubborn Stuff: CO-1686 versus lung cancer. For six weeks, I ingested a total of 492 pills of the CO-1686 trial drug. In that same period, the Clovis Trial folks drew several tablespoons of blood from me and I gave them ounces of urine samples in half a dozen specimen cups. I think that’s the only way of fluid transfer in the urine department! Subsequent laboratory analysis showed the drug did not trample my liver and kidneys as it made its way to try to beat into a pulp the 1cm x2cm nodule and two microscopic ones at the bottom of my left lung. Since April 22nd, the CO-1686 drug and my malignant nodules have been waging a raging battle for the right to exist. Of course, the intent of the clinical trials is for CO-1686 to win. I haven’t had any side effects. No glucose elevation, no loss of appetite, no fatigue, no rashes, no post-nasal drip, no toenail issues, no “squirt” diarrhea, nothing. What has the drug been doing? On June 2nd, the CTscan, the one and only judge of this conflict, went to action. It came out with the score card in images that tell the tale. Dr. C, the Good Doctor, read the score card.

And the winner is….”moi!” LOL!!!

Okay! So I speak French when I get excited. But winning is winning in any language. And the scans showed I won!! Today is Exclamation Point Day!!!

I don’t have the radiologist’s report yet in my Patient’s Portal but my Onc’s Onc and I viewed and reviewed the CTscan images together. The “after” pictures were beautiful! The main tumor shrunk tremendously and the two tiny tiny ones became almost invisible! The “too numerous to count” nodules in both lungs seemed fewer, but I insisted again they were not cancer, but rather, infection from the dried bird “caca” that I accidentally inhaled under the I-25 overpass in Albuquerque. Like all others before him, my Onc’s Onc laughed.

I was so excited about the news that I just had to post this using the clinic’s computer.

More detailed story later!!!! I’m going to do cartwheels all the way to the bar in the next zip code to have a beer! But wait a minute…there are other considerations here..like my caregiver/husband.

Go ahead. Tell me what you think! Ask questions!