October 23, 2020 – This afternoon, I completed my second round (infusion) of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) at West Cancer Center’s main campus. Keytruda, as I’ve explained previously, is an immunotherapy medicine – meaning it boosts the body’s natural immune defenses in order to fight cancer.
My new treatment regimen is based on science, real science. Not conspiracy theories, not voodoo doctors who believe in alien DNA, not off-the-cuff comments about drinking bleach to kill a virus. Real science.
|Up the steps to the
Immunotherapy treatments are relatively new. Keytruda was FDA-approved in 2014 and by 2017 was in use for solid metastatic tumors, like melanoma. The U.S. approval and testing process is long and somewhat complex. Clinical trials can take years to complete.
I volunteer my time by working on scientific review panels that evaluate research proposals for possible funding grants. I’ve been a part of this process for a couple of years now, and it is a tremendous honor to be a “consumer advocate” and share my impressions (and concerns) with cancer doctors and researchers. This is one of the many ways I give back to the melanoma (skin cancer) community.
I want to ensure that melanoma prevention and treatment moves forward towards a potential cure and the funding of this research remains apolitical. Scientists need to be able to do their work – without threats and without undue influence.
|A long day.
Although the Keytruda infusion typically lasts only thirty minutes, my October 23rd visit was over three hours. Blood work, IV insertion, oncologist visit, scheduling (and re-scheduling), waiting on lab results, pharmacy prep work, a flu shot – all took place before my infusion.
Sitting in the third-floor infusion area was both odd and sad. Memories of waiting in this area while Emily received her chemotherapy treatments brought a flood of emotions. I’ve been a stage IV cancer patient for a long time, but I’ve never had intravenous treatment. The infusion area is a dull, sterile environment. It’s sad watching folks from all walks of life undergoing treatment. We have one thing in common–however–we all have cancer.
At the same time, watching other patients hooked up to IV machines and monitors reminded me that we’re fortunate to have researchers, scientists, technicians, nurses and doctors working hard to find new and better treatment options and, maybe one day, a cure.
Real research. Real progress. Not just talking points during a political campaign.
Thanks, as always, for listening.