In the past few weeks, four or five emails have arrived telling me I should look into this treatment.
It is no surprise that these messages have arrived now. In the same time period there have been several news stories about Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and their treatment with the drug, Abraxane.
As Michele R. Berman, MD and Mark S. Boguski, MD, PhD wrote at Medpage Today on 28 July 2020,
”Reid was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2018. He underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins University, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. However, his cancer worsened.
“Fearing he was near death, he got in touch with Patrick Soon-Shiong, MBBCh, inventor of the protein-bound paclitaxel suspension sold as Abraxane. Soon-Shiong was working on a combination treatment that he refers to as a 'triangle offense' for refractory metastatic cancers such as breast, lung, and pancreas.
“Reid became one of four patients in his compassionate use program. Reid traveled from his home near Las Vegas to Soon-Shiong's office in Los Angeles.
“After six months of treatment, no evidence of cancer was found on Reid's scans. A June 2020 article in the Washington Post confirms that Reid is still in remission, nearly two years after his diagnosis.
“Trebek also seems to be showing improvement on the regimen.”
Patrick Soon-Shiong is an intriguing man. The short version from Wikipedia tells us he was born 29 July 1952,
”...is a South African-American transplant surgeon, billionaire businessman, bioscientist, and media proprietor. He is the inventor of the drug Abraxane, which became known for its efficacy against lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer.
“Soon-Shiong is the founder of NantWorks, a network of healthcare, biotech, and artificial intelligence startups; an adjunct professor of surgery and executive director of the Wireless Health Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles; and a visiting professor at Imperial College London and Dartmouth College.
“Soon-Shiong has published more than 100 scientific papers and has more than 230 issued patents worldwide on advancements spanning numerous fields in technology and medicine.
Oh, wait. In his spare time he is the owner and executive chairman of The Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Soon-Shiong's biography isn't really important to what I'm here to say today but I have included this brief excerpt because I didn't expect something so interesting when I was tracking down the information I needed about Reid's and Trebek's pancreatic cancer treatment.
What I really came here to say is that with the arrival of each email telling me I should look into treating my pancreatic cancer with Abraxane, I became angrier and like so many other things in my life, I suspect I'm not alone in my resentment of the intrusion and the assumption I would run right out and get me some.
Just the word, cancer, is fraught – at least in the United States – so much so that when I was a young woman, it was only whispered when a friend or relative was diagnosed. No one said it aloud.
We have gotten away from that in recent years as a few cancers have become treatable or curable, but it is still the number two killer in the U.S. (after heart disease) and is 23.1 percent of all deaths.
This disease doesn't fool around.
Although I am prepared to think that those people who sent the news stories meant well, they have no idea about my pancreatic cancer or, apparently, cancer in general. They don't know that I also have peritoneal cancer, lung cancer and probably a few others by now - it has been on the move in my body at least since early this year.
COPD, diagnosed more than a year ago, throws another complication into the mix. My doctors undoubtedly know about the trials with Abraxane, but no oncologists like telling patients there are no more treatments available and they don't do it on whim.
We all want to live and to do it for as long as possible so it is cruel for know-nothing strangers to forward links to stories based only, as far as I could tell, on the fact that they have the word “pancreatic” in them.
I have worked long and hard over the past three-plus years to come to terms with my cancer and where it is leading. Most of the time I am doing well at that but it is a delicate balance.
Even someone like me who takes pains to always concentrate on what is real and true can, for a moment, be sidetracked into a fairy tale for awhile, and then must claw her way back to sanity.
Did any of the people who sent those emails bother to read the part of those stories explaining that ONLY FOUR PEOPLE are in the COMPASSIONATE USE TRIAL? Did any of them bother to see if those two celebrities have COPD and two other kinds of cancer?
Maybe Abraxane will turn out to be a successful cancer treatment, something new that will give many patients many more years than most can expect now. God, I hope so.
But would you take an unproven COVID-19 vaccine that only four people have been given? I didn't think so.
It's a better idea to help a friend or relative with cancer get through the activities of daily life than tantalize them with a false hope.