Today we are celebrating Mark's 65th Birthday! He mentioned this morning that the pain helps him feel like he is 65! :) Last time we were at the doctor he was asked to rate his pain. He looked at the chart with all the happy to sad faces and descriptions of each from 1-10. Number 2 isn't much pain, but the description was "loss of sense of humor". Mark was aghast! He couldn't imagine losing his sense of humor at a 2 - maybe a 8 or 9, but definitely not a 2! He figures his pain level is now about a 6-7, and his his sense of humor is still intact!!
Mark has never been one to take pain medications, but he has decided that they are a great blessing! Over the counter drugs are no longer able to alleviate the pain, so he has been taking Oxycodone. Thankfully, it has taken the edge off and allows him to sleep. Tomorrow we meet with the radiologist to do mapping for radiation to help ease the pain in his hip and adboman caused my tumors in his spine and hip bone. Afterwards, we will meet with the clinical trial specialist who will give us more information about a different clinical trial that Dr. Urba discussed with us yesterday. This one uses Keytruda, an anti-PD-1 drug. Mark's biopsy showed high levels of PD-L1 which means this drug has a better chance of showing positive results. Along with Keytruda, Mark will be given GR-MD-02, a complex carbohydrate made from apple pectin. Research in the lab suggests that GR-MD-02 given along with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) could more effectively stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells. We had been feeling more inclined to use Keytruda instead of Yervoy, so this clinical fits better with what we hoped for. Mark's first treatment will be sometime next week, and will continue every three weeks as long as it continues to be effective. We will work out the details tomorrow.
Yesterday as Mark was researching these options, he realized that total cure is still only 15%, but that is so much better than it was a few years ago! In the past when Mark has pointed out low cure rates to Dr. Urba, he has always been quick to exclaim that he could be the one to hit the ball out of the park! If past treatments are an indication, that is certainly possible, although we don't believe that would be the case without your faith and prayers, so THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
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