When a Hopeful Mesothelioma Trial Stops Working
As soon as you’re comfortable with the mesothelioma treatment plan your family member is on and life is becoming easier and less stressful, the thing you’re dreading happens. Symptoms arise and you begin wondering why all of a sudden your loved one is in more pain, or why he’s out of breath, or why he’s not eating. After an almost perfect Christmas this is what happened to my father.
It was the first Christmas in a few years that we weren’t stressing over how Dad was feeling, and we were able to get the entire family out for a holiday concert in Philadelphia and go over to our extended family’s house. We were thankful to put mesothelioma in the back of our minds and laugh like the old times, but not for long. After the New Year, we noticed a difference in Dad. He had more pain all of a sudden, and he just knew something wasn’t right.
He called his doctors and they recommended getting a scan very soon to see what was going on. Just like my dad has always been, stubborn, he decided to wait to see if anything changed. Within a few days the pain increased, and he broke down and went for a scan. The following day he got the results and they were not favorable: he had significant growth of the tumors that had been shrinking with the immunotherapy. It was time for another meeting with his team of doctors.
After the meeting with his doctors in Philly, there was a quick plan put into play. The cancer had grown about 30% of what the last scan showed, and we needed to start another treatment quick. Immunotherapy was off the table and there weren’t any other trials that were available at the time that Dad would qualify for. This was so frustrating, because there could be some available in a month or so, but not at the moment.
The doctors decided on radiation, which would treat only part of the cancer but would diminish the pain that he was feeling in his abdomen and back. Going into treatment at this point must be clearly explained and a clear goal must be understood. Treatments now are only to treat pain and comfort, unless there was a clinical trial that came available.
There is always a chance that if cancer keeps growing or comes back after one kind of treatment, it may be possible to try another treatment plan that might still contain the cancer, or shrink the tumors enough to help you live longer and feel better. But when many different treatments have been tried and the cancer has not gotten any better, the cancer tends to become resistant to all treatment. If this happens, it’s important to weigh the possible limited benefits of a new treatment against the possible downsides, including treatment side effects. Everyone has their own way of looking at this.