cancer is a chronic illness

My father-in-law, himself a cancer survivor, sent me a terrific article from the New York Times:

“Cancer as a Disease, Not a Death Sentence”

That about sums it up, for me.

I particularly enjoyed the following anecdote, so reflective of my own experience (the drugs are different, except for the Herceptin):

Dr. Esteva described a breast cancer patient first treated with a mastectomy and the antiestrogen tamoxifen in 1995. Five years later, cancer had spread to her lungs, prompting treatment with a newer anticancer drug, an aromatase inhibitor. When that no longer worked, her cancer was found to possess a molecular factor, HER-2, and she began treatment with Herceptin, a designer drug tailor made to attack HER-2-positive breast cancer.Herceptin therapy was able to stabilize her metastases for years, “something we had not seen before,” Dr. Esteva said.

The patient now receives a combination of Herceptin and another drug and enjoys a relatively normal quality of life, the doctor reported.

The article describes beautifully the approach of my oncologist. First treatment A is tried until that stops working, then treatment B and so on. Ideally, treatment would continue in this way until a cure is found . For the time, being, though many of us are living longer than anyone thought we would and with a pretty good quality of life.

Cross-posted to Not Just About Cancer.


2 Responses to cancer is a chronic illness

  1. Jenster says:

    Good article.

  2. The goal is to stay one step behind the newest drug…. Herceptin was approved by my health care provider just six months before I was diagnosed. I hope it will keep working at least until its replacement drug is approved….

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