On Dec. 16, 2013, an emergency surgery revealed I had stage IV colon cancer. I was 49, in complete shock and still processing the gravity of the diagnosis. It was a very difficult Christmas, one that could have potentially been our family's last together. As I recuperated at home, a story came on TV about an experimental treatment using the immune system to directly battle colon cancer. The patients' amazing responses gave me much needed hope.
Family and friends urged me to seek help at MD Anderson. But my cancer continued to metastasize, after three major surgeries and three chemotherapy protocols. Dr. Christopher Garrett suggested I consider participating in an immunotherapy trial that could possibly result in a new targeted therapy for colon cancer. Christine Fark, a research nurse, called me on Dec. 19, 2014 to tell us they had an opening.
After beginning the new trial, I received the fantastic news that nivolumab, a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, was enabling my immune system to recognize and attack my cancer. This groundbreaking research of my oncologist, Dr. Michael Overman, and his team, is making colon cancer history that will save or extend lives like mine and give hope to other colon cancer patients. As an added blessing, this immunotherapy has not included the side effects that came along with chemotherapy.
Because of the commitment, hard work and innovation that Dr. Overman and his team have invested in colorectal cancer research, there is a lot of hope on the horizon. These breakthroughs are helping achieve the Moon Shots Program's™ goal of reducing colorectal cancer deaths by 30% in 10 years.
As the Moon Shots Program™ focuses on immunotherapy and clinical applications, molecular research, early detection and prevention, the advances being made now have meaningful benefits for those affected by colorectal cancer.