So I was accepted to a to a clinic at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston. This trial uses a device, The NovoTTF-100A, to hit the tumor with Electric fields in a similar to the way a magnet exerts forces on metallic particles within a magnetic field. TTFields are alternating electric fields of low intensity. This means that they change their direction repetitively many times a second. Since they change direction very rapidly (200 thousand times a second), they do not cause muscles to twitch, nor do they have any effects on other electrically activated tissues in the body (brain, nerves and heart). Since the intensities of TTFields in the body are very low, they do not cause heating. The breakthrough finding made by NovoCure was that finely tuned alternating fields of very low intensity, now termed TTFields (Tumor Treating Fields), cause a significant slowing in the growth of cancer cells.
Other cells in the body (normal healthy tissues) are affected much less than cancer cells since they multiply at a much slower rate if at all. In addition TTFields can be directed to a certain part of the body, leaving sensitive areas out of their reach.
The treatment will consist of wearing four electrically insulated electrodes on my head. After an initial short visit to the clinic for training and monitoring, I will be released to continue treatment at home where I can maintain a regular daily routine.
I am supposed to return monthly for re-evaluation for as long as the treatment is effective. Effective means that the tumor either reduces in size or shows no signs of growth. There is a lot of skepticism amongst those in the medical field about this type of treatment. The chances of it shrinking the tumor are pretty slim. This is one of the only phase III trials for people with a recurrent tumor like mine.
The reason we need to give this a try is because we tried the gold standard for treating this type of tumor and it did not work. There are other options but pursuing these before trying a clinical trial is likely to eliminate me from being eligible for a trial.
The point is that I need to focus on the good news and that is that I have been given a chance to try another form of treatment which may work. If it does not then we will likely try another type of chemotherapy and repeat radiation along with another surgery.
I am sorry that I have not gotten back to each one of you that has texted, called, or e-mailed but the truth is it is exhausting to have to deal with this and I think I am starting to feel the effects of this tumor. My left hand is less and less responsive each day; I have trouble on focusing on things; I have taken to carrying a notepad around with a pen because I am starting to forget things more often.
I have to be in Boston before December 27, which gives me less than 2 weeks before I have to be on the road. I appreciate all of the support, I have had a lot of people ask me to do things. I’m not bragging, but I won’t be able to accommodate everyone before I go particularly with the holidays being here. Please try to understand that I want to see as many people as possible. I should be around Baltimore this Saturday but anything beyond that will be difficult because I have my mom’s birthday and then Christmas.