Meeting Dr. Slamon, Father of Herceptin

I could finally meet Dr. Slamon, who helped develop Herceptin, after almost two months trying to make an appointment with him.

As he has been my hero since I saw “ Living Proof” , a movie about him and his struggles of making Herceptin available,  I was excited to meet him.  Yet when he walked into an exam room and offered his hand to shake, I felt so humbled thinking that this was the man who saved so many women by revolutionizing the treatment of breast cancer.

Looking at the latest result of CT scan, he started off saying that cancer might be activated.  My purpose of visiting him was to get his opinion for the next regimen concerning the same, but hearing the statement from him made me realize the seriousness.

Our conversation began supposing that the suspicious lymphadenopathy was cancer, and he suggested as follows:

1)   Take another CT scan soon, not waiting until the end of December.

2)   Stop Taxol, which has caused so many side effects, and try Xeloda because the side effects could become much worse even with a less dose and then the recovery may be difficult.

3)   If cancer is active again, get TDM-1 as soon as possible.  ( I have read that  FDA might approve it on 2/28/2013)

4)   While waiting for T-DM1, the recommended regimen is Perjeta, a new drug approved in June 2012, +Herceptin + Xeloda.

5)   If cancer is stable, try Herceptin+Tykerb+Xeloda as long as it ‘s effective.

6)   Clinical trials of vaccine haven’t shown any good results yet, but the research about IL6, a protein that causes cancer’s resistance against Herceptin may be a breakthrough.  Keep an  eye on those clinical trials.

I got nervous as I learned that Dr. Slamon was seriously concerned with my side effects, but it also requires courage to drop Taxol, which was the first effective drug for me and could be still working, and to change to the new drug, which may not work on me.   I wondered if I had to look for clinical trials of T-DM1 again, though I thought I could wait for its approval until next year.

I e-mailed my oncologist informing her of the 2nd opinion of Dr. Slamon.  I was leaning on the optimistic assumption that the suspicious lymphadenopathy was due to a bad cold and I could enjoy this Christmas season until next CT scan which was supposed to be at the end of December.  The roller coaster may be moving again, but I was  thankful that I could meet Dr. Slamon to get his opinion.

The movie was produced in 2008.

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