two years is nothingJune 6, 2011
The results of two melanoma trials, both of which had occurred when Clark was being treated for his melanoma, were presented at ASCO this weekend and featured in a NYT article yesterday. One works with the immune system, and the other attacks a specific genetic mutation that causes tumors to grow faster. Both have shown to add two to several months to the lives of patients with advanced melanoma.
Right there in the fourth paragraph is the sentence I read but couldn’t let myself comprehend at least one hundred times when Clark was first diagnosed: “Right now people with metastatic melanoma — meaning it has spread to distant organs — typically live 6 to 10 months.”
In one trial, 84 percent of patients were alive after six months, compared to 64% who received the traditional chemo treatment (the same type Clark received). Once the success of the drug became apparent, the trial was stopped for ethical reasons and the drug was administered to the patients who had been receiving only chemotherapy.
Half of the patients in either trial saw no benefit. “Still, doctors and patient groups welcomed the progress because until now treatment of melanoma that had spread beyond the skin to distant organs ‘was terrible even by routine cancer standards,’ said Dr. Vernon K. Sondak, chairman of cutaneous oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla.”
All of this information is astounding. I can’t believe these results. I can’t comprehend the brilliance of these researchers. This is the sentence that really got me thinking, though:
“Even if the new drugs allow patients with metastatic melanoma to live two years, ‘Two years is nothing when you’re 30,’ said Dr. Anna C. Pavlick, head of the melanoma program at New York University.”
I wonder what we would’ve done with two more cancer-filled years. I want him to be here so badly. I read this article right before I went to sleep last night, and I remembered about halfway through the morning that I had dreamed of him. No specifics came to me, but I felt in my chest that I had seen him. Two more years with him would have been a gift. But how does one navigate two years that aren’t supposed to be there, that are destined to end in tragedy?