Sorry for the late update folks. My current treatment plan consists of nothing more than taking pills twice a day. I have been taking Vemurafenib for a couple of months now and I am definitely responding! (responding is doctor-speak for “it’s working”). My tumors have reduced significantly and I am back working full time. My main side effects are joint pain, rash and hair loss, but they are *mostly* tolerable. This is great news, for sure, but I am not yet out of the woods. While I am currently responding on this treatment, the data suggests that my cancer cells will develop a resistance to the drug in about 6-9 months (see here and here). But there’s more. It turns out that melanomas that develop resistance to the drug also become addicted to it. So doctors are experimenting with alternate-dosing schemes which might break the cycle of resistance. Add to that, we still don’t have a definitive answer on whether or not I will be re-considered for TIL therapy at the NIH. It’s enough to make your head spin.
On a somewhat unrelated note, I came across a news story revealing that Pope Francis has only 1 lung and was elected Pope at age 76 after having been the runner-up in 2005. I am reminded that there there is still work to be done in this life. As Frankl says in his excellent book Man’s Search for Meaning – One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment.
And so the only thing left to do is to try to rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.