Tag Archive for David Sidransky

Personalizing Your Cancer Treatment (part 1)

Personalized-Medicine

 

I’ll never forget the heartbreaking moment when we heard Alan’s cancer was not cureable. In fact, my heart just skipped a few beats as I recall that day. One of my very favorite doctors (Dr. David Sidransky of Champions Oncology) told us not to give up hope. He explained that the oncology community was making great strides in turning cancer into a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. He said, New medical advancements that personalize cancer treatments are exploding.  The key is to be alive when the next breakthrough is discovered. So let’s figure out how to extend Alan’s life so that he has a shot of being here when that breakthrough happens.”

 

Fast forward to today-4 ½ years later- much progress has been made in personalizing cancer treatments.  Although still not considered mainstream, personalized medicine is absolutely changing how cancer drugs are developed and prescribed and how many cancer patients are treated.  Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of posts about breakthroughs and medical advancements that help doctors personalize cancer treatments such as molecular profiling, biomarker testing, immunotherapy, tumorgrafts and more.  If you read a post that resonates with you, share it with your doctor as you can help guide decision making when it comes to your own healthcare.  You are your own best advocate!

 

 

 

Champions Oncology & Sarcoma

 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the organizations I write about in this blog; others I wish I had known about during our “cancer journey”; and still others, although not relevant to Alan’s cancer are fantastic resources that can help others in their fight against cancer.

 

Champions Oncology is one of the organizations that we were lucky to find. Their co-founder Dr. David Sidransky is one of the smartest and most dedicated cancer warriors I know. Champions is doing great work to help fight cancer… one person at a time. Watch this YouTube video above about a man who was diagnosed with sarcoma to learn more.  And click HERE to see what I wrote about Champions based on my personal experience.

5 Reasons Why I LOVE Champions Oncology

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the organizations I write about in this blog; others I wish I had known about during our “cancer journey”; and still others, although not relevant to Alan’s cancer are fantastic resources that can help others in their fight against cancer.

 

Champions Oncology is one of the organizations that we were lucky to find.  Their co-founder Dr. David Sidransky is one of the smartest and most dedicated cancer warriors I know.  They are doing great work to help fight cancer… one person at a time.  Watch the YouTube video above and read what I’ve written below to see why I’m a huge fan of Champions… Below are my Top 5 Reasons…

 

5.  Personalized Oncology is the future of cancer care.  Two people with the exact same cancer can and do respond differently to the exact same treatment regimen.  I wish I had understood this at the beginning of our cancer journey. Read this article from the NY TIMES on how Champions is the ultimate in personalized medicine.

 

4.   Champions organized a “panel” of 13 sarcoma experts (doctors, surgeons & researchers too).   The Panel met, discussed & debated Alan for over two hours.  They built consensus and came up with a plan of action… a plan that we could never have otherwise obtained, even if have if we had visited each of the professionals individually.  BTW, the plan they came up is the only one that actually slowed the growth of Alan’s cancer.  See Reason #2.

 

3.  No Dr. Schmucks Allowed!  Doctors are people, just like you and me.  And at the end of the day, you have to trust your doctor.  But here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Not all doctors are created equal.  And finding the GOOD ones is not always easy.  Alan and I met and worked with quite a few Dr. Schmucks during our cancer journey and some of them were the “Chief of This & That” at major hospitals.  But I can honestly say that every single medical professional that we worked with through Champions Oncology was brilliant and compassionate and they got “it”… as long as there is life, there is hope.  No giving up allowed.

 

2.  Tumorgrafts REALLY WORK… no ifs, ands or buts about it…  Champions implants your tumor into genetically-stripped mice and then they test different drugs and drug combinations to see what works.  If a treatment works in the mice, it can work in your body.  It’s like your own personal clinical trial.

 

1.  They gave us realistic hope.  By the time we found Champions, we were running out of time.  They were both honest and cautiously optimistic with us. If they could find a drug regimen that would slow down or better yet, kill this cancer (which they have been able to successfully accomplish in other patients), we’d have more time together and maybe, just maybe, live happily ever after.  Although our story did not have the happy ending we dreamed of, I know that we did everything humanly possible to save Alan.  And because of this knowledge, my family and I sleep at night knowing we left no stone unturned.

 

 

 

Picking the Cancer Treatment That Works Best for YOU

Cancer Connect is an AMAZING, innovative online network for people with cancer & their caregivers.  And they host FREE, educational webinars called “Web Chat with the Experts“.  It’s an unbelievable opportunity to learn from and get your questions answered by leading medical experts.

 

And I’m beyond excited about this…. my very favorite doctor on the planet, Dr. David Sidransky, Director of Head & Neck Cancer Research at Johns Hopkins, Co-Founder of Champions of Oncology and one of the most highly cited researchers in clinical & medical journals in the world, will be presenting on “Picking the Cancer Treatment that Works Best for You”…. personalized oncology at it’s finest.  This is a MUST see! No registration is necessary.

 

To view the program, go to www.CancerConnect.com on Wednesday, November 2 at 6pm EST.  ** To submit questions for Dr. Sidransky to answer during the Live WebChat, click HERE.

Other upcoming Webinars include:

November 8 “Advances in Treatment Decision Making for Patients with Early-Stage Colon Cancer” presented by Dr. Howard Hochster, Director of GI Oncology at Yale School of Medicine

 

November 17Do Complementary Therapies Work?” presented by Dr. Barrie Cassileth of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center & Author of “The Complete Guide to Complementary Therapies in Cancer Care.”

 

Don’t miss out on these FREE, educational webinars and an opportunity to engage with the world’s top medical experts!

The Faces of Sarcoma

Alan just a few months before he was diagnosed with Pleomorphic Rhadbdomyosarcoma

 

My friend Jim always shares the BEST information with me… in fact, he regularly sends me info that I write about in CancerHAWK.  (Thank you Jim, you are amazing!) Jim also lost a dear friend to sarcoma which is what led him to co-found Champions Oncology (along with my very favorite doctor in the world, Dr. David Sidransky).

 

Today, Jim shared with me The Faces of Sarcoma, an amazing project led by the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, an incredible resource for anyone touched by sarcoma. Sarcomas are so rare that most people have never even heard of them.  I know we hadn’t until that fateful day in 2009.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

Sarcoma is a very rare type of cancer (comprising only 1% of all adult cancers & 15% of all childhood cancers) that arises from connective tissue and can develop in muscle, bone, fat or cartilage.  Sarcomas can arise anywhere in the body and are frequently hidden deep in limbs.  The Faces of Sarcoma is literally trying to put a human face to the disease… they are collecting photos of sarcoma patients, survivors & those who have lost their lives to sarcoma so the sarcoma story can be told in a more personal way. There are currently over 500 photos in the collection.  I just submitted a picture of Alan as well as info on our journey.  In time, they will make a video from these photos to complement an earlier video “A Forgotten Cancer” which was translated into 10 languages in 2009.

 

By increasing public awareness of sarcoma, raising funds to award research grants and providing support and timely info to sarcoma patients, their families & medical professionals, the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative and The Faces of Sarcoma hope to make a difference in the lives of anyone touched by sarcoma.

So if you know anyone who has been touched by sarcoma, send them this information…. Knowledge is power… Share the power!

Top 5 Reasons Why I LOVE Champions Oncology

 

During our cancer journey, we had a lot of ups & downs… and we were lucky to find medical professionals and organizations that supported us, cared about us, gave us hope and made the most horrific year of our life somewhat bearable… I’ve written about all these people and organizations throughout the CancerHawk blog.  But today, for post #101, I’d like to write about my all-time favorite group of people at Champions Oncology…. read below and you’ll see why I will forever be indebted to the doctors and people at Champions….(BTW, they work with YOUR oncologist to do all this.)

 

5.  Personalized Oncology is the future of cancer care.  Two people with the exact same cancer can and do respond differently to the exact same treatment regimen.  I wish I had understood this at the beginning of our cancer journey. Champions Oncology works with your oncologist to create a personalized oncology solution to your specific cancer.  I really wish I had found Champions at the beginning of our journey!

 

4.   Champions organized a “panel” of 13 sarcoma experts (doctors, surgeons & researchers too).   The Panel met, discussed & debated Alan for over two hours.  They built consensus and came up with a plan of action… a plan that we could never have otherwise obtained, even if have if we had visited each of the professionals individually.  And oh by the way, the plan they came up is the only one that actually slowed the growth of Alan’s cancer.

 

3.  No Dr. Schmucks Allowed!  Doctors are people, just like you and me.  And at the end of the day, you have to trust your doctor.  But here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Not all doctors are created equal.  And finding the GOOD ones is not always easy.  Alan and I met and worked with quite a few Dr. Schmucks during our cancer journey and some of them were the “Chief of This & That” at major hospitals.  But I can honestly say that every single medical professional that we worked with through Champions Oncology was brilliant and compassionate and they got “it”… as long as there is life, there is hope.  No giving up allowed.

 

2.  Tumorgrafts REALLY WORK… no ifs, ands or buts about it…  Champions implants your tumor into genetically-stripped mice and then they test different drugs and drug combinations to see what works on the mice.  And oh by the way, if a treatment works in the mice, it will absolutely work in your body. It’s like your own personal clinical trial. The challenge is they need fresh tumor. So ideally we would have given Alan’s tumor from his arm to them.  While the tumor was growing in the mice, Alan would have undergone the “standard protocol” but we would have had better information after that first regimen failed… which is why I wish I had known about Champions from the beginning.

 

1.  They gave us realistic hope.  By the time we found Champions, we were running out of time.  They were both honest and cautiously optimistic with us. If they could find a drug regimen that would slow down or better yet, kill this cancer (which they have been able to successfully accomplish in other patients), we’d have more time together and maybe, just maybe, live happily ever after.  Although our story did not have the happy ending we dreamed of, I know that we did everything humanly possible to save Alan.  And because of this knowledge, my family and I sleep at night knowing we left no stone unturned.

But check out this incredible success story and interview with Dr. David Sidransky of Champions OncologyCLICK HERE to listen.  Dr. Sidransky is AMAZING!!!! And I trusted him with my husband’s life… and I would trust him again in a heartbeat…  Thanks Dr. S! You’re THE BEST!

 

 

WTF is “Personalized Oncology” & Why Didn’t I Know About this Sooner?

After two very intense and very different protocols weren’t working, we were told to check out a clinical trial.  WTF!!!  How is it that the chemo didn’t kill Alan’s cancer?  How many times have you heard “if the chemo doesn’t kill you, it will cure you”.  Yeah right!  (I don’t mean to sound facetious… it’s just so frustrating… even a year later.)

 

By pure luck and one amazing Uncle, we learned about “personalized medicine” & “personalized oncology.”  Alan had a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.  The standard protocols weren’t working.  We needed help… and fast.  Meet Champions Oncology, they have created a novel approach to personalized medicine…

 

On November 23, 2009, we meet with Dr. David Sidransky of Champions Oncology.  Dr. Sidransky is an amazing and brilliant person… and he is a realistic optimist… which is exactly what we needed.  I’ll never forget this date for two reasons:

#1.  It was my 13th wedding anniversary (and believe it or not, 13 is a lucky number in my family).

#2.  We were given HOPE again!

 

More about Champions Oncology tomorrow…  but if you are diagnosed with sarcoma, colorectal or lung cancer (or any other type of cancer but especially one of these three types or any rare cancer), please check them out… what they are doing is incredible!!!!