I asked Leroy’s oncologist if Leroy was in his cancer fight today, would new treatments and specifically, immunotherapy, result in a much different outcome?  Would he have lived longer?  Would those colon cancer cells cut and run at the site of these new drugs?

“Possibly” was the answer.

His colon cancer certainly had a genetic component tied to it.  His grandmother and mother both had colon cancer.  Many of the immunotherapies that are proving successful in treatment are being linked to familial genetics.  There’s no way to say for sure, but his chances of surviving longer now versus then are pretty strong.

To say discoveries and treatments for so many cancers are already light years ahead of where they were just 7 years ago when Leroy lost his fight.

I can’t even count the times, we asked about tumor sequencing.  “We’re just not there yet.”  That was the answer we’d get.  I presume “they” were there but it wasn’t a common procedure like it is today.  Sequencing is one of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer treatment.  THEN it was hardly done and the cost was off the charts and insurance companies would laugh when you’d ask for coverage of the procedure.  Now, even Medicare covers some sequencing.  That’s how common place it’s become, but it isn’t the ‘cure’ for all cancers.

Doctors can’t look at the results of a mass that’s been sequenced, see the cancer, run to the pharmacy and get the pill that matches that cancer.  No….that isn’t what’s happening, not by a long shot.

Some immunotherapies are miracle workers.  Some patients respond so completely that tumors seem to melt away, while other patients with the same cancer, have little or no response.

Science, you see, really never seems to be exact, does it?

But it’s a million times better today than it was back in Leroy’s day.  I’m grateful for that because it means it’s a million times better for care givers and family members too.  They don’t really need to understand the science.  They just want something to work.

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