Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Around the Web: In Memoriam

The cancer community (and at least a few others) reverberated with the death of blogger and frequent tweeter Lisa Adams last week.

{photo source}
One woman posted on Facebook, “It is hard to explain to your family why you’re crying over the loss of someone you’ve never even had a cup of coffee with.” Another explained our collective crying, in part:

It's not just fear of our own mortality, of course. We also miss our friends.

I am not alone in missing Lisa's wit and quick comfort. Even in 140 characters or less, she knew how to get straight to the heart of a matter, what to say, how to be a friend, the right words to use to educate the rest of us about clinical trials, palliative care, end-of-life decisions, and how to stay positive through it all (to paraphrase: find or create a bit of beauty).

My friend Renee's birthday was this week. I miss her, too. And Brigid, and Jen, and far too many others to list here.

So, yes, we grieve for our friends. But there is a large dose of fear. We who are living with metastatic breast cancer can't help it. We wonder: when will our luck run out? How will our families cope? Will our children remember us? Have we done enough to leave our marks, given our limited time (and energy)? Will there ever be an end to this disease? Will it (could we dare to hope) be in our lifetime?

Here is a round-up of the news and research that I hope is moving us in the right direction. My hope sustains me. It brings me out of my fear. Here's to hope. And research.

A New App that May Help Advance Research

"Apple could have slapped a pink ribbon on their iPhone cases during October, or donated a percentage of their October pink iPhone sales to one of the breast cancer organizations, and called it a day. Instead, they chose to put skin in the game, working with Sage Bionetworks to develop ResearchKit -- a completely Open Source (read: FREE) platform for the medical research community to help collect patient-reported data efficiently, effectively, and inexpensively."

You can learn more or download Share the Journey here.

Manipulating Cells' Shapes to Treat Breast Cancer?

"Changing cell shape – through mechanical, chemical or genetic means – could be a new way of assisting the body’s own inflammatory response to fight cancer.

“Interest in using the body’s own inflammatory response to fight cancer has been reinvigorated recently because of the promising results of immunotherapy. Our study further supports the need to explore the role of inflammation and cancer, in order to enhance treatments and the body’s own ability to eliminate cancer cells.”

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:

'Cancer cells are in a battle against the body’s natural failsafe mechanisms that seek out and destroy them. This study underlines the importance of a cancer cell’s shape in helping to tip the balance in its favour, not only dodging an immune reaction but actually thriving in response to it. It also shows that manipulating cell shape could help tip the balance back against a tumour.'”

Another Treatment Option in the Pipeline for Her-2+ Cancers

"Poziotinib is a novel oral, pan-HER inhibitor that has shown single agent clinical activity in breast cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer, and is currently being studied in several Phase 2 clinical trials.

Poziotinib has shown a remarkable 60% response rate in early clinical trials in patients with breast cancer who had previously failed multiple lines of treatment, including HER2-directed therapies trastuzumab and lapatinib."

Hope for Fertility Preservation in Certain Early-Stage Breast Cancers

"A major international clinical trial has found that the risk of sudden onset of menopause can be significantly reduced by adding a drug called goserelin to the chemotherapy regimen. Women who took goserelin and wanted to have children also were more likely to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.

'Some of the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy in young women with breast cancer are early and sudden onset of menopause and infertility,' said Kathy Albain, MD, senior author, medical oncologist and Director of Loyola University Chicago Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center's Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program. 'These findings provide hope for young women with breast cancer who would like to prevent early menopause or still have children.'"

Lowering the Cost of Cancer Medicines

"The Food and Drug Administration approved the first copy of a biotechnology drug for the U.S. market, firing the starting gun on a new industry that could help the U.S. curb its $376 billion in yearly drug spending.

The drug is a rival version of Neupogen, an Amgen Inc. treatment prescribed to chemotherapy patients."

I never needed Neupogen. Instead, I was given Neulasta, a similar drug that is long-lasting rather than fast-acting. Both work to stimulate white blood cell production. My Neulasta shots cost something on the order of $6,000 per infusion, and I got one after every treatment on my old chemo. 

This news could save a lot of people a lot of money. 

Speaking of Money, A Little Grant to Fund Metastatic Breast Cancer

"The FDA’s recent approval of the first PARP inhibitor, coupled with current research, suggests that this new class of targeted therapy has great potential to help not only patients with ovarian cancer for whom the agent is indicated but also individuals with breast cancer. Mark E. Robson, MD, clinic director of the Clinical Genetics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, presented on this topic at the Miami Breast Cancer Conference.

“It is an exciting time. We have an approval for olaparib (Lynparza) in ovarian cancer and there are active phase III studies for olaparib and other PARP inhibitors in metastatic breast cancer for patients with BRCA1/2 mutations,” said Robson."


  1. Hoping I remember that one about chemo brain being treatable... :) <3 to Lisa Adams, such a big loss.

    1. I know, I've already forgotten the specifics. ;) So many losses in our community lately.

  2. Thank you for making me aware of the drug Poziotinib. I am Her 2 neu positive, so this information keeps me hopeful.