The first week of June the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) conference met in Chicago, leaving behind a very bizarre chain reaction concerning the drug called TDM-1. Frankly, the hype on this not-so-new drug blew me away. Why?
First and foremost my wonderful, caring, loquacious father, phoned from Chicago after watching CNBC news. It was not only my totally overjoyed and jubilant dad thinking TDM-1 would cure his daughter. As the news of this silver bullet, trojan horse, and/or dream drug was hitting the media, all over the country other families reacted with the same joy mixed with hysteria. My father, Robert Davis, was now convinced the tide had turned with my six-year battle with stage IV breast cancer. He did not hold back his uplifted being to most everyone he knew at Wyndemere, his over-55 community in Wheaton, Ill. Many joined him in the bustling and rallying for me, to say the least.
This type of media hype I find abysmal, as the reports suggested there would be a cure for all. It is so very unconscionable to falsely inspire the hopes of average humans like my father, my family, his friends, and my breast cancer community.
My response to my father was, "Don't worry dad I'm so used to getting my hopes up." "This drug has been around for almost three years -- it's only a derivative of the decade-old drug Herceptin, which many consider to be more a maintenance drug." I had applied for a trial of TDM-1 almost three years ago. Since I am HER2- (negative) I can forget about TDM-1 and Herceptin!
The drug is a hybrid and interesting compound, designed by linking a traditional kind of chemotherapy, DM1, to the Herceptin antibody (trastuzumab). Herceptin is again old news in breast cancer: This antibody binds a signaling molecule, Her2, that's expressed at high levels in approximately one in five breast tumors. The FDA approved Herceptin for use in patients with metastatic, Her2+ breast cancer in 1998 and, for some women with localized, lymph node positive disease, in 2006.
There is, however, a lesson in all this; we cannot assume one drug fits all -- it does not. We may all be stage IV; however, our pathways are different, so YOUR treatment may not work for me and vise versa. I believe the oncologists and researchers have finally figured this out after all these decades later. The "one size does NOT fit all" theory. This also perpetuates the complexity of the disease.
As it may be, many of us stage IV may never see the true fullfillment of our triumphs? We realize it but what else can we do? What we do best: believe!
Until next time,