4. Summer Progress Report
The requirement that I receive my chemotherapy each week for 5 months has served to keep me close to home this summer. I've been quite fortunate in that I've experienced virtually no physical side effects from the treatments. My weekly white cell count has been all over the spectrum however, and I never know if the count will be high or low on any given week. Fortunately, I've had no infections resulting from low white counts, and I've been able to keep my regular excercise program intact thoughout. Physically, I'm near 100% and am still gaining back some of the weight I lost last winter. I think I gained three pounds outright from eating the lion's share of my 60th birthday cake July 31st!
I have four more chemotherapy sessions to go, the last one scheduled for the week of Labor Day. Then on the 12th and 13th of September, I'll be returning to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a follow-up CT scan. I pray that this scan will be clear of cancer just like the last one in April. If so, I may (or may not, 50-50 chance) receive some additional chemo and radiation therapy as per the clinical study to which I volunteed. Then afterwards, I'll be scheduled for routine CT scans as they are warranted.
Pancreatic cancer now ranks fourth in cancer deaths worldwide, only exceeded by lung, breast, and colorectal cancers. Yet the money spent on pancreatic cancer research is shamefully low in proportion to other less common cancers, and it's barely 10% of that spent on breast cancer research alone. Perhaps this is a prime reason that a pancreatic cancer victim's life expectancy is statisically no better today in 2012 than it was 50 years ago. Even the best current treatments carry little hope for a cure, or even a lenghty remission. So, much more remains to be done in the arena of pancreatic cancer, as with all other cancers. In Congress, The Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (S. 362/ H.R. 733) is a worthy bill that is currently stuck in committee despite widespread support from both sides of the aisle. Co-sponsored by our very own Kay Bailey Hutchinson, this bill would not require any new funding should it pass, but it would re-allocate already existing monies toward pancreatic cancer initiatives. It would also direct the FDA to loosen strict testing requirements for new drugs and treatments in order to make them more readily available for "compassionate use" for those suffering with terminal pancreatic cancer. I have written my Washington Senators and Representative expressing my support for this bill, and I would greatly appreciate your doing the same. Nowadays, it is quite easy to fire off an email and it takes only a minute of your time. This bill may help fund break-through research that may offer real hope to my children and your children should they one day fall victim to this cruel disease.
I will update my post again here on the Holt Clinic website after I get the results of my September CT scan. Meanwhile, please remember me in your thoughts and prayers, just as you've done for me this past few months. I cannot thank you all enough......