October 11th, 2016

Seeking DC Vaccine–The Reason Why I Go For It

The gap between expectation and the reality

An article in Inspire (a cancer virtual community) said there is a discrepancy between the participants in the phase 1 clinical trial and the reality regarding the effect: The majority of participants join the trial because they are seeking a cure, running out of options of treatment, recommended by an oncologist, or want to help future patients, and 3/4 of them expect their tumors will shrink. Yet in reality, the phase one clinical trial’s drug response rates are typically between 4-20% and median over all survival duration is 6 months according to the article.

This explains why Kaiser doesn’t support phase one studies, but the poor numbers of the effectiveness didn’t surprise me. I have learned that although the medicine advances day by day, it is still a small step. I started searching a clinical trial because that was my oncologist’s advice, who was concerned me running out of treatment options. Yet, why did I choose the vaccine phase 1 study even going against the doctor’s opinion? I’ve been wondering about it.

The reasons why I chose the vaccine

First I spent so many hours searching the possible trials but I was disqualified for most phase 3 trials because I have used up most drugs the study wants to compare with the new drugs, and my choices were just a few. Most of them were phase one trials, which I can’t use Kaiser insurance but the vaccine is covered by National Cancer Institute.

Secondly, I was getting tired and weary with the side effects, but the vaccine seems to have only a flu-like reaction as a side-effect right after the shots though it may affect the heart also because the study includes the long-term observation of the heart function.

Thirdly, since when I first read and heard the news of  the vaccine’s success in 2011, I was impressed so much that I have been waiting for it and now it became reachable.

Fourthly I was convinced by the logic or hypothesis of the study, the breathtaking animal study’s result, and part 1 human being study result (50% response rate) that were explained by the study chief doctor, whom I will meet next week in NCI.

And lastly, maybe this is silly, but I felt some connection between two “Bethesda”s, in Maryland and in Israel where I prayed for healing with George and friends two years ago. Maybe the prayer in Bethesda, Islael will be granted in Bethesda Maryland.

Going against the doctor is crazy and I understand the risks I face including death, but at least if I can give data for the future patients, it won’t be wasted. Dr. Slamon at UCLA said it takes a long time to see the result, maybe 5-6 months, which is a time to complete four shots of the vaccine. If it won’t work on me, I am hoping that I will leave the study before it gets too late and get on something else.

New drug is in the pipeline 

Seems like in a year, a new targeting drug for HER2 + breast cancer will be approved by the FDA. I wish at least the vaccine to be effective until then.

God has been so good to me navigating and sustaining my life for last 6 and a half years. He never makes mistakes. His plan is perfect. Thus I have to trust in Him no matter what. I will leave for the screening in 4 days.