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Oncology 11.1

Today I met with the oncologist. It is part of my fortnightly routine, only this time included some extra discussion about the consequences of my recent scan.

Essentially, when the scan was discussed amongst the radiologists, it was established that although from scan to scan I have had stable disease, when you compare a recent scan with a scan a year ago, what you see is gradual change. This means that even though my disease has been stable, there has actually been slow, gradual change over a much longer period of time.

So the question of the moment is, what does this mean for my management? Well, it hasn’t been until relatively recently that ‘stable disease’ has been a desirable end point of treatment in oncology. In the past, if cancer showed any sign of non-response at all, it was considered to be unsuccessful, and chemo was either stopped, or the treatment regime changed. Now, since stable disease is in fact considered a worthwhile endpoint, treatment will often continue even if there is no progression, or in my case, very slow progression. Added to this is the fact that within the public system, we are out of treatment options. The next line of treatment would be cetixumab, a monoclonal antibody that costs around 3000 NZD per round, on a fortnightly regime. I am currently getting my tumour tested for the K-ras mutation to see whether or not my cancer would likely be a responder to cetixumab.

The final outcome of all of this is: treatment will continue as is for the time being, likely to be reassessed at the next CT scan in 3 months; and secondly, the consideration of the addition of cetuximab if my cancer is the wild-type variant. On balance, I’m not such a fan of bankrupting ourselves to add a few months extra life-expectancy that cetximab would offer, especially when you consider how many vaccinations the money spent on cetuximab might buy in the developing world, and the lives it would save spent there. The money spent per life ratio is somewhat more beneficial if spent in a cost:benefit context. People say you can’t put a price on a life… however the reality is that some lives come at a cheaper price than others, and we seriously over spend in the developed world.

Until next time..

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  1. Matt & Nicky Gumbrell
    April 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Jared, You don’t know us, but we feel like we know you just a little from your blog, but more so from hearing a recording of your seminar-talk at Parachute. We’re in our early 40’s and have heard lots and lots of stuff about healing in our time. Lots of it just hasn’t washed with us (who are old enough to have lost some very cool friends in “meaningless-feeling” ways) and so it was a hugely pleasant surprise to hear what you said. Our first reaction was “Man, this guy’s got courage!” You really do – in being able to talk in such a rawly-honest way and say things that lots of Christians don’t want to hear. We run a homegroup for early 20’s and we listened together to your talk. It was a very very good discussion and I think was very helpful to them. SO we just want to say that your determination to glorify God WHATEVER life is dealing to you, is working!! Thank you

  2. Jared
    April 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks for your feedback. It is always encouraging to hear from people who are encouraged by my story. I share it so that people can build their faith and hopefully develop a theology around healing and suffering that doesn’t destroy, but strengthens people, and hopefully enables them to in turn be a strength to others. Blessings.

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