October 27, 2006

The monkey takes a break.....

For the past few days things have been a wee bit anxious. I had blood drawn on Wednesday and we have been waiting on pins and needles since.

Mary and I are apparently becoming old pro's at this, we talked about it briefly at lunch the other day, but we know where we are on the roller coaster, why go over it again and again. Maybe we should talk about it more, however after all these years of marriage, like most couples, there is a lot of non-verbal communication.

Have I strung you along long enough? Here is the news; my latest PSA is 51.48. Four weeks ago it was 83.97. While 51.48 is not very good in the grand scheme of things, it does represent a decrease of almost 40%!!! In addition, all my other blood, liver measurements are normal!

Next step, keep taking the combination of Ketoconazole and Hydrocortisone. Then I'll have a new blood test and Zometa treatment #3 on November 13th. If the numbers down, we keep on keeping on. If they go up, then we discuss with the doctor's if we give it another month or jump right into chemo. I was left with the impression after our last meeting that either way we're off the hook until December.

So goodbye little monkey, get off my back and go stand in the corner for awhile. As a matter of fact, why don’t you just let yourself out and don’t come back!
Today's musical interlude comes from Big Head Todd and the Monsters and their 1993 album "Sister Sweetly". The song is "Circle" and it goes something like this:
As I pick you up,
You drag me down,
As I come to you,
You turn around,
Rise and fall,
Turn the wheels,
'cause all life is a really just a circle…..

October 24, 2006

Looking ahead....

A bad sports analogy but appropriate for these two stories. One is specific to PC and is likely to gain FDA approval and reach the market in the next 12-18 months. The second is longer term in nature and currently being tested only on laboratory mice.
Dendreon Announces New Data Analyses Presented at Prostate Cancer Foundation Scientific Retreat
PROVENGE Significantly Extends Prostate Cancer Specific Survival in Advanced Prostate Cancer
SEATTLE, WA, October 20, 2006 – Dendreon Corporation (Nasdaq: DNDN) today announced that Eric J. Small, M.D., professor of medicine and urology at the University of California, San Francisco presented new exploratory analyses of the Phase 3 Study (D9901) that further support the results observed with the Company's investigational active cellular immunotherapy PROVENGE® (sipuleucel-T) in men with advanced androgen-independent (hormone refractory) prostate cancer.

These data were presented at the Prostate Cancer Foundation's 13th Annual Scientific Retreat held Oct. 19-21, 2006 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Company plans to complete the submission of a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to the end of this year to seek approval to market PROVENGE.

The analyses presented by Dr. Small showed:
The overall survival benefit does not appear to be due to any imbalances in the treatment arms or the subsequent use and timing of chemotherapy. As published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Phase 3 Study (D9901) demonstrated a median overall survival of 25.9 months in the PROVENGE arm compared with 21.4 months in the placebo arm, or a 4.5 month survival difference. For these men, there was a 41 percent overall reduction in the risk of death (p-value = 0.010; HR = 1.71); and

An analysis of prostate-cancer-specific survival showed a median survival of 35.2 months for patients randomized to PROVENGE compared to 23.5 months for patients randomized to placebo, a difference of 11.7 months and a 50 percent reduction in prostate cancer-specific mortality (p-value = 0.002; HR = 2.04).
A link to Dr. Small's slide show presentation is available via Dendreon's web site at http://investor.dendreon.com/medialist.cfm

"These and other analyses we have performed further support our BLA filing, which we intend to complete this year," said Mark Frohlich, M.D., vice president of clinical affairs at Dendreon. "We remain focused on the goal of making this active cellular immunotherapy available for the treatment of the many men with advanced prostate cancer who currently have few appealing treatment options available to them."

About PROVENGE (sipuleucel-T)
PROVENGE (sipuleucel-T) is an investigational product that may represent the first in a new class of active cellular immunotherapies (ACIs) that are uniquely designed to stimulate a patient's own immune system. ACIs hold promise because they may provide patients with a meaningful survival benefit with low toxicities. PROVENGE targets the prostate cancer antigen, prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), which is found in approximately 95 percent of prostate cancers. PROVENGE is in late-stage development for the treatment of patients with advanced prostate cancer. In clinical studies, patients typically received three infusions over a one-month period as a complete course of therapy.

Scientists Say Cancer-Killing Virus Developed
Agence France-Presse | 10.19.2006

SEOUL —South Korean scientists have said they have developed a new genetically altered strain of virus which is highly efficient in targeting and killing cancer cells.

The new therapy developed by the team from Yonsei University uses a genetically-engineered form of the adenovirus, which normally causes colds.

The adenovirus was implanted with a human gene that is related to the production of relaxin, a hormone associated with pregnancy.

When injected into cancerous tumors, the virus quickly multiplies in the cancer cells and kills them, the team said.

The new adenovirus can target only cancer cells and does not harm normal cells, the team said.

Existing viral treatments fail to kill off all the cancerous cells.

“I believe we have found a way to overcome one of the great obstacles to finding a genetically altered viral cure for cancer,” Yun Chae-Ok, one of the researchers, told AFP on Thursday.

Following three rounds of injections, more than 90 percent of cancer cells in the brains, liver, lungs and womb of mice disappeared within 60 days, the team said.

Clinical tests will be carried out early next year and last 18 months, Yun said.

The research results were published in the October 18 edition of the prestigious bimonthly Journal of the National Cancer Institute in the United States.
Copyright 2006 Agence France-Presse

October 20, 2006

20 Months and counting

For those of you in KC, have you been outside today? I should be on the course (ball or disc!!) We have a good chance of rain tomorrow so it may be two weeks in a row without playing.
Any Cardinal fans out there? How 'bout them Birds!! I was jumping around our bedroom like a fool last night!! Mary and Brad thought I was nuts! I don’t know what was more exciting, Molina's homer in the ninth or watching as the $14 Million dollar 'Cardinal Killer' Carlos Beltran's knees buckle on a called strike three!!! Nothing like a guy making one fortieth of your salary striking you out looking in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded! It was classic!!! Now we face the Tigers, I'm not sure we have the pitching to hang with these guys, but then again, I wasn't confident that we could beat the Padre's or the Mets. That's why they play the game.
Day 4 post Zometa treatment #2, nothing to report. Lower back pain, gone. No Advil since Tuesday.
Golf Tournament Update:
Many people have been asking, I was hoping to get all our checks and bills in first to make it 100% official, but what the heck, the cat's out of the bag: WE DID IT!!! We reached our goal of raising $20,000!!! The next step is for the board to meet next week and approve the financials. Even better news is we still have a chance to double the donation. A generous donor to the Prostate Cancer Foundation is matching all donations, dollar for dollar!
Do you like Texas Hold 'em?
Then join us on Monday November 13th at Johnny's Tavern on 135th Street! Click here for all the details.

October 17, 2006

While you're back there....

Yesterday's transfusion went off without a hitch.  Before hand, we briefly met with Dr. H.  He asked if I was experiencing any side effects from the Ketoconazole (I'm not) and how I was feeling in general.  We also discussed the clinical trial at KU Medical Center as those doctor's had sent him a letter after our visit a few weeks back.  He was in favor of us pursuing the trial.  He also told us not to expect too much from next weeks PSA test.  As much as the number fluctuates, it could go up at first.  If it does, the PSA test I have on 11-13 will likely be the final indicator.  If my number is up next week and in November we will proceed to chemo (my thought is as quickly as possible!).  

Being that I was due for my Lupron (Hormone Therapy) shot we made a quick call to Dr. Davis' office and caught Nurse Mel at the St. Luke's office, it happens to be right across the parking lot from Dr. H.

So we killed two birds etc…  This shot is always fun, leaves the gluteus maximus a little sore for two or three days!

"How was your day?" Just a typical Monday, and you?

October 16, 2006

The smell of freshly mowed grass...

One thing that has changed throughout this crazy journey is my diet.  I've touched on it briefly from time to time, but never provided very much insight.  If you have any interest in what changes I have made, to maintain a more healthy weight, here is a list of the foods that are now staples in my diet:

- gala apples
- baby carrots
- sushi (just the fish on rice, with wasabi!!)
- Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp, medium spicy
- grilled Salmon and most any grilled fish
- asparagus, anyway but raw
- broccoli (steamed)
- raisins
- pasta. (I always loved pasta, now I avoid the white sauce and use no cheese)
- chicken…..did I mentioned chicken, and then there is chicken.

This diet limits our options with the exclusion of beef, pork and dairy, but when you are married to "the woman with 10,000 recipes", it never gets boring.

I mowed the grass this weekend for the first time in almost two years.  In the spring of 2005 we decided to have our fifteen year nephew mow for us.  He liked earning some cash, and I needed one less thing to strain my back.  Well he was out of town this week-end and I have been feeling great for the last ten days, so I thought I'd give it a whirl!  I'm glad to report I had no issues with pain later on Saturday or Sunday!!  This may appear to be no big deal but it is a rather significant step.  No, I'm not for hire…..

In approximately 3 1/2 hours I'll be in the process of being injected with my second treatment of Zometa.  The treatment itself is nothing; a small bag of fluid (maybe 12oz?) provided intravenously.  The whole process takes less than thirty minutes.  What followed last time was not so easy.  Three to four days after the infusion I had pain in my ribs for a few days and then pains in my legs for about a week. Though the pain was relatively mild, and easily controlled by Advil, it was accompanied by an increased level of mental stress.  She doesn't mention it, but I can tell it weighs heavily on Mary's mind.  For me, it just causes second guessing about what's really going on inside my body.  Is it the Zometa working? Is it a sudden turn for the worse? Etc..

Having gone through this four weeks ago, a least we will know what to possibly expect.

If it is a side effect of the Zometa, that is fine. The Zometa is strengthening the areas of bone that have been compromised by the cancer cells.

October 09, 2006

Still looking for my Kryptonite...

…and I pray I never find it!!!

First, let me be clear, I am not saying I am Superman.  What I am saying is this, I am experiencing no side effects after one week of the new drug regime.  Zero nausea, no additional fatigue, I'm not any more tired than usual.  I'm just praying that the drugs are actually working, I'd like to keep chemo at bay for as long as possible.

It's Fall.  The trees are changing here in Kansas City.  It happened real fast this year, at least it seemed like it to me.  One week it was 95 degrees, the next week the trees are yellow, orange, red, etc..  As I posted before, I love Fall, but prefer Spring.  It's just that Fall, with it's beauty fades too fast and leads into the doldrums of Winter. Spring is about new life, the return of the beauty of nature and so on.  I hope to find the time this coming weekend to get outside in the woods to enjoy the colors, I hope we have a good weather weekend ahead.

I spent this past weekend working on projects around the house and playing disc golf, twice.  It was a small crowd this weekend, but I played remarkably well after taking two weeks off.  There were only four of us on Saturday and three yesterday, I won both times, throwing a three over par on Saturday and two over yesterday.  Not bad considering I only had one birdie, just a whole lot of pars!  I'm already looking forward to next weekend and it's only Monday!

We should have a final update on the final count of the golf tournament, there are one or two checks still outstanding and the details of the golf course invoice are in the mail.  In the end, I'm pretty certain we will make our goal of $20,000 donation to PCF (to be matched dollar for dollar via the Prostate Cancer Foundation).

October 04, 2006

Yet another shameless plug!!

I finally got a video tape of my second television appearance from back in August.
It was August 10 and this is from 'Kansas City Live'. It will be permanently linked to the right, or you can view it right from this post. Just click on the arrow.

October 02, 2006

I want a new drug, one that won't hurt my head....

Never did like that Huey Lewis song, but in the name of spontaneity, it was the first thing I though of….

First and foremost, medical update.
Mary and I just returned from KU Medical Center where we met with Dr's Van and Helz, two very, very nice chaps. We were both very impressed, and both of us liked their personalities, bedside manner and progressive approach to treating my case. We are seriously contemplating transferring to them as our primary oncology team.

1) They agreed that starting the Ketoconazole was a reasonable next step - they also minimized in our concern with the risk to the liver as a side effect. It occurs in few cases. My monthly blood test for PSA will now include other analysis that will indicate any potential impacts to my liver. If indications result in concern that my liver is adversely effected, I will stop the Ketoconazole. The potential damage to the liver is not permanent. They were clear however, that because the hormone blockers were only effective for 18 months, the possibility of long term success with Ketoconazole is pretty low. However, every case is different, so we all agreed to proceed. I’ll start taking the Ketoconazole and Hydrocortisone tonight followed by a PSA and liver screening in 4 weeks. If my numbers come down, we'll reassess and run the same tests several weeks later. If my number does not come down, we'll likely go directly to #2 below.

2) We discussed a number of clinical trials, standard treatments, etc. These two doctors were more in step with current trials and leading edge treatment protocols, than any doctors we have met with yet (no offense to anyone, they work in a research hospital, they should be!) The good news is the one trial that Mary and I have had the most interest in (Taxotere and DN-101, a concentrated vitamin D compound) is within weeks of being brought to KU Medical Center. The nearest other location is St. Joseph, Mo or Columbia, MO. 90 minutes and 120 minute drives, respectively. The timing could work out to be perfect. It is NOT a placebo controlled study , but there is a control group. What that means is , if I am selected, I'll know it right away because the control group has the standard treatments every three weeks and the trial group gets the Taxotere/DN-101 treatments weekly. Only time will tell.

So we have started a new regimen and a new chapter in our battle against this horrible disease. We ask for your prayers that it will be effective in managing the growth of the cancer cells and have hope that we are on a path to remission.

The Golf Tournament was a tremendous success. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a crowd of 140 golfers, four short of a full field, due to a few last minute cancellations. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves while supporting a very worthy cause. We still have a few bills to pay and checks to deposit so I should have the final tally before the weeks is over. If we don't reach our goal of a $20K donation to PCF, we will be REAL close!

I owe so many people thanks and recognition but I think I'll save that for another post. I cannot adequately articulate my gratitude to all the players, volunteers, sponsors, friends and family that made this day possible.

The days leading up to the tournament were very hectic with last minute details, coupled with family and friends in town all weekend, Mary and I were wiped out by last night , but it was a 'good tired'. It may take us a day or two to fully recover!