It has been wonderful to be home. I forgot how nice our own bed is.
We talked with the doctors from Houston yesterday. They have been talking with the immunotherapy board about what the next best step would be. My tumor has at least two unique markers on the tumor cells. One marker is called GD2 and the other is called HER2. Our first time in Houston they designed cells to target the GD2 marker. After reviewing the pathology reports they have decided that they would like to put in new cells aimed at the HER2 marker and see what that does. The GD2 seemed to have killed about half of the tumor but the tumor could have died for other reasons. We aren't sure. The HER2 will be very similar to the GD2 except that they are going to give me 5 days of chemotherapy before injecting it. The theory is that if you clear our some of your own T-cells that there will be more room for the injected, enhanced T-cells to expand and take over. This will be the sixth time I have gone through chemotherapy. Ughh... We will probably have to be back in Houston in about 2 weeks.
We knew that this might be an option so when I was in Houston last time I had them take blood and prepare the genetically modified cells targeting HER2 just in case. So, the cells have all been engineered and are sitting in cold storage waiting to be injected. Oh, another important difference in this study is that they will keep injecting more T-cells every 6-12 weeks as long as the tumor is responding. I really like that idea. T-cells, even genetically enhanced ones, don't live that long. I love the idea of sending in fresh troops over and over until the job is done.
This same doctor did this same study a year ago without the chemotherapy. You should understand that to qualify for these studies you have to have exhausted all conventional treatments. In other words, there is no known cure. The last time he did this study 50% of the patients were still doing well at the end of a year. That doesn't seem that great but when you consider who they are working with it is really very promising results.
So, last night JoLynne and I went for a walk around the block talking through all this stuff. It's a "hard pill to swallow", so to speak. Knowing what chemo is like doesn't make it easier I'm afraid. Anyway, we came home and were laying in bed. I was cold and had a blanket. JoLynne said, "What do you think Eric?" I told her that I had a very distinct burning in my bosom Then I pulled back the blanket and showed her the electric hot pad on my chest.