Just prior to that trip I had a good 3-day camping jaunt up the California coast with a friend from Australia, another hiking buddy and two nephews. These were my first chances to get away since surgery. I'm posting photos from these trips on my Flickr page over time: see them here-- http://www.flickr.com/photos/psa104/ . One coastal photo caught the eyes of over 3,000 viewers.
I'm feeling strong, walking 2-4 miles a day and eating healthy food. Though I'm not out of the woods, I've recovered remarkably well so far, thanks to the prayers of many people and the grace of God. Just 3.5 months ago I was helpless in a hospital bed, and now look! When my oncologist saw these pictures of me hiking, doing handstands and cliff diving, she said it made her day!
I'm on long-term treatment with octreotide, a chemical that mimics a natural enzyme with receptors for the tumor cells in my liver. It's supposed to shrink the tumors, or at least inhibit them from growing. In late May, I had to inject myself three times a day for two weeks. Now, every 4 weeks I get a shot in the gluteal muscles that makes me sore for about a day, but then I feel fine.
Neuroendocrine tumors, like those embedded in my liver, are usually slow-growing. The octreotide is probably just buying time until more targeted therapies become FDA approved. Some of them look very promising. One available already follows the octreotide to the tumors with a radioactive isotope payload that can kill the tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. A better isotope is now undergoing a Phase III trial at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The most interesting targeted therapies are the T-cell immunotherapies and oncolytic viruses. The T-cell therapy trains your own immune system to fight the tumors. The oncolythic virus therapy uses a custom virus that finds the tumor cell and kills it, releasing copies that attack nearby tumor cells. A test of this virus at the University of Uppsala in Sweden has proven effective in mice. Researchers are seeking funds to begin Phase I trials in humans. Unfortunately, these "miracle cures" are years away. We should pray that they become available soon, not just for me, but for many others suffering from cancer.
In mid-July I will be meeting with my surgeons at City of Hope to learn about treatment options. Most likely they will recommend staying the course with octreotide for now. You can continue to pray that it will be effective, and buy me as much time as God's perfect will requires for me to work, and that I will use my time wisely.