Today is World Cancer Day so I suppose it would be an appropriate day to post about my most recent liquid biopsy results. Since April, my scans (PET/CT, CT, and a previous blood biopsy) have all been clear; I’ve had no evidence of disease (NED). Of course, achieving that goal is monumental but keeping the NED status is even more of a challenge. If you’ll recall, I achieved a clear PET/CT in the fall of ’19 but by January had an aggressive recurrence. I believe I’d failed to block some important metabolic pathways which allowed remaining cells (too small to detect on PET/CT) to become resistant to the meds I was taking and the pathways I was blocking. I’m fairly confident that I’ve been blocking all of the pathways now and addressing nutrition, exercise, and emotional/mental health.
I am so pleased to be able to write that my most recent liquid/blood biopsy STILL shows no evidence of any cancer circulating in my blood! Praise the Lord!!!
Some of you may be asking what a liquid biopsy is. A blood, or liquid, biopsy is what it sounds like. They simply take a few vials of blood and then analyze it for circulating tumor DNA and molecular residual disease. The two most recent liquid biopsies I’ve had done were analyzed by Signatera. Their process is far more individualized than the previous biopsies analyzed by Biocept and GuardantHealth. Both of those two were great but Signatera actually requires a tissue sample to create a personalize assay that they then use to look for my specific tumor’s DNA. These biopsies are used to assess whether a treatment is effective or in my case, to watch for recurrence. They’ve been able to find ctDNA months before anything is picked up on CT/PET/MRI scans. This is because those scans can only see tumors or disease that’s typically 2mm large. There can be disease in the body that’s not large enough for the scans to detect. In the past, some doctors have relied on tumor marker tests but unfortunately those are not reliable. For example, all of my tumor marker numbers remained in normal levels even when I had confirmed recurrence in my chest AND metastasis in my liver. On the other hand, some people’s tumor marker levels will rise because of tumor die off or even simple inflammation from another infection or injury. The markers aren’t 100% specific to cancer so other factors can affect the rise and fall of the levels, making them somewhat unreliable. On the other hand, the liquid biopsies are literally measuring only tumor proteins and DNA. This NIH article does a great job explaining the basics of liquid biopsies. I am a visual learner so here is a simple picture of what the liquid biopsies are looking for:
Naturally, I was elated to receive this news! My oncologist and everyone in the office was celebrating with me. I am not the first “terminal” patient he has helped to achieve NED. In fact, he has numerous patients like myself who’ve been NED for YEARS. His methods are a little outside conventional treatments but by and large, they work. Isn’t it curious that despite his amazing track record, his work is not being heralded or studied?
So what now? Am I “cancer free?” Likely not. We ALL have cancer cells in our bodies but most people’s immune systems keep those little buggers in check and don’t allow them to grow uncontrolled. I view cancer as a manageable disease that I will likely always have to actively suppress because of a genetic mutation I have and the increasingly toxic world we live in. I don’t think I will ever be able to let my guard down and stop taking my supplements and repurposed meds. However, the question we are asking now is…what’s next? My oncologist said there is one more chemo that works on a cell cycle we haven’t targeted yet. I could continue on the oral targeted therapy, I could continue with the Herceptin infusions, or……I can think about stopping both. Y’all…..I can think about stopping conventional therapies. This is unheard of in conventional oncology. If I was almost anywhere else, they’d be telling me that my NED status is a bit of good luck and if I stop medications my cancer will come back more aggressively. Is that possible? Sure, anything is possible. Do I think it’s probable? No. My doctor is concerned about my heart as the Herceptin has lowered my heart function and heart disease runs in both sides of my family. I don’t want to beat cancer only to die of heart disease. So I asked him if I could continue the oral meds for 3 more weeks and pray about what to do. My oncologist, bless his heart, responded that praying is the BEST thing I can do. So for the time being, I’m praying for wisdom and would love if you would join me in that prayer.
I also had a very long chat with my functional ND oncologist, Dr. HO. We talked about the possibility of starting up mistletoe if I stop the oral targeted medication, various supplements, and some repurposed medications. I’m particularly interested in Ivermectin to replace the mebendezole I have been taking every other month as it seems to work on similar pathways to kill cancer AND seems to offer protection against that virus that shall not be named…you know, the one that effectively shut down the world. So I’ll keep on with all my supplements, exercise, nutrition, keeping stress at a minimum….and pray.
To all of you who will read this and feel discouraged, please know there is hope. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.