Happy New Year, Everyone!

It’s 2015, and its a “new dawn” for all things to come!

I want you all to know I’m thankful for so many things…..

  • Having another healthy year, filled with new adventures….
  • My husband, Mike, and my son, Sergei always by my side – they make me laugh out loud…..
  • My amazing horse, Yildren. He turns 27 this year and is my ultimate conductor of Zen…
  • Our pup, Zoe, who is so full of life that she’s become my athletic trainer for making me walk every morning whether I feel like it or not…..
  • That business is going well, and I work with terrific people….
  • That I don’t have to go to California every month…..Don’t get me wrong – I love California, but home is where the heart is! And I can always visit California. But on my terms….
  • And for each of you, my friends and family – you’ve been my rock!

You know, I’ve really grown to appreciate just “being”.

For all that I am extremely thankful!

Another thing I’m thankful for is it was another great year for the advancement of melanoma research. When I say great, I really mean it, and that's so important to me and others afflicted with this terrible cancer.

Matter of fact, we just landed another new melanoma drug two weeks ago – not bad an illness that saw zero advancement for more than 15 years up until 4 years ago.

On December 22nd, the FDA approved this new drug called Opdivo (aka nivolumab), and this one is really cool. Its got a very cool generic “scientific” description – the doctors call Anti PD-1. The “PD” stands for “Programmed Death”…..

Sounds bad assed, huh? What a great name…some scientist with a demented sense of humor thought this one up.

I think this makes five new drugs in four years….

AMAZING!

This new approval is a promising and opens up an important new avenue for combination therapies. Just like the combo therapy I’m on – it's a combinations of 2 drugs, called “inhibitors”. They seek out the mutation that is the lynchpin for the cancer and they “inhibit” it. Sort of like throwing a blanket on it and confusing it so it can’t work. And that allows your immune system to kick the cancer in the butt! You may recall that I’m on a BRAF and MEK (Dabrafenib/Trametinib) inhibitors.

And the good news is that my “combo cocktail” is doing its job….

And I’m still W-I-N-N-I-N-G.

And loving it!

Merck also has it’s own PD-1 treatment Keytruda (pembrolizumab), and it was approved just this past September. Seems every one of the pharma companies are coming into the arena with their own version of an anti PD-1 drug.

Mike’s trying to figure out who is going to be the big winner and buy their stock.

Mike’s a multi-tasker.

J

It seems these days there’s a lot to consider. This is completely different from my first Caring Bridge installment. There weren’t many options to keep the blue side up.

Just saying…

The exciting thing is that it seems that doctors are zeroing in on cancer. The two big strategies are combining drugs that either enhances your immune system to fight cancer or confusing critical mutations that make cancer grow so your immune system can zap the cancer.

Guys, we’re living in a new “golden age” for medical enlightenment!

Amazing things are happening – a diagnosis of cancer only a couple of years ago was a certified death sentence.

And its not just melanoma cancer – its happening in cancer of the breast, lungs…..

EVERYWHERE!

This is awesome for each and every one of us!

Heck, I thought I was a gone-er!

“You’ve got 6 to 8 months left….better start making plans….”

Man, that sucked!

But look at me know – five stink’in years after diagnosis and I’m still on the planet.

Go figure…..

W-I-N-N-I-N-G!

Seeing a cure in my lifetime isn’t out of the question!

YEAH!!

With the approval of anti PD-1 drugs, and the advancement of combination therapies, we’re witnessing serious progress. These advancements are a critical step forward, but we now need to make sure patients who need and deserve a treatment receive it.

Unfortunately, a lot of these drugs aren’t accessible or understood by the typical oncologist. Or if you live in New Zealand or Australia, you may never get it. Their health services don’t cover many of the new treatment options.

Why?

Because, at $120,000 a year or more, not many programs can afford it.

You can always try to plead your case to the pharma company - they may have a program to help you out.

But they can only help so much….

That’s heavy stuff, huh?

We as a society need to figure a way to help everyone, not just those who can afford it. We can’t take away the pharma company’s incentives to discover these drugs, but we’ve got to find a better way of getting the drugs into the hands of people who need them.

Just something to think about in 2015.

I know we can work this out – I really do!

Anyway, lets end this on a happy note. It may be cold outside, but, hey – its winter, right? And spring and summer are right around the corner. Use each one of these days to celebrate life – its really a precious thing. Next time you see someone you care about, let them know. Why? Because life is a gift, and we should be grateful for all of our family and friends.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Cheers,

Cheryl