Late February of 2012 Mark was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma Cancer. This is written for our family and friends who have so caringly expressed a desire to know of the current situation. We so appreciate the love and support that has been shown to us and we lovingly empathize with and pray for many of you that have had or are currently going through trials of your own. In love, hope and faith, Mark and Ane

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Still clean! - by Mark

The x-ray we took last Friday looks the same as before with no tumor growth, just some leftover tissue doing nothing. Hurrah! Still tumor free.

I asked Dr. Urba how long do patients usually go before the tumors start growing back?  He said, they don't know.  Usually, they don't go away. Of those that do there are not enough to draw any conclusions.  Those that have had them come back have been months but there are so few.  The drug is new; those who's tumors shrink to nothing is rare and the idea of stopping and then restarting is even newer, so we are on the very cutting edge of treatment and don't have a clue.

The side effects are slowly going away.  My hair is still very curly (kinky/frizzy) but actually lays down, a bit.  The joint pains are gradually going away and the skin growths are slowing down.  I am gaining weight again and food tastes great.  I am still on the nutritious diet and will be forever:-)  I actually quite like it now.

We will be on the company cruise in April and so look forward to being with our Precoa friends again.

It is all of your love, faith and prayers and the blessings of heaven that have extended my life.  Now every day is a bonus day, a day for loving, learning, sharing and serving and always another day of gratitude!!

Love forever,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Decisions, Decisions! - by Ane (& Mark)

The problem with going to the Oncologist is that it all becomes real again.  Mark is doing so well, it seems like the cancer is gone; we dogged that bullet and away we go with life.  But our Doc brings us back to reality and we have to make life or death decisions or ones that could have that kind of impact.

Yesterday was our 6 week check up with Dr. Urba.  Since Mark is doing so incredibly well the doctor doesn’t think that we need to hurry to start the Yervoy.  We might as well enjoy our time of Mark feeling so good! 

The protocol for Yervoy (ipilimumab) is a 90 minute outpatient intravenous injection every 3 weeks with a total of 4 injections.  We had thought that he would start the Yervoy in a few weeks, taking one or two doses before our company trip the end of April and the rest after, but we learned yesterday that the side effects can be very serious. We need to be close to good medical facilities during the duration of the treatment. 

We had lots of questions, i.e. “Does the drug work if there are no tumors? Is it better to wait until they start to grow?”  Dr. Urba told us that there are NO answers to these questions.  This is the ART of medicine because we are on the cutting edge.  There is no real science yet until more research is done - which is in progress.  He did indicate that side effects tend to be worse with less tumor activity which gives us another reason to postpone starting the drug.  Also, if there is some tumor activity it is possible to determine if the drug is working.  

Of course, we are anxious to know if any tumors are growing so Dr. Urba ordered a chest X-ray.  It’s the least invasive.  PET and CT scans cannot be done so often.  Mark can get the X-ray whenever we are ready.  Since it’s only been 5 weeks since the PET scan we feel inclined to wait at least a few weeks before we expose him to more radiation.  Also, we want to move it closer to the trip.  If tumors show up we will decide whether to start the drug right away or wait until right after the trip. It depends on their size and rate of growth.  If there are no tumors we will rejoice once again! 

So for now we are doing nothing medically, but we can enjoy every minute we have together, and we are doing just that!