It’s been about a week since I emailed my doctor. At that time, I had grown curious as to when my clinical trial would start. At my last appointment, he had said that it would be within two months, but I could have sworn that it had already been a month and a half. Time seems to either go by really fast or incredibly slow.
Dr. Cortes emailed me back within fifteen minutes. I was surprised to hear from him so quickly, considering that my initial email was sent at 10 pm. I told him of my situation and that I was out of medication. I had been out for three weeks, but because I was going to be starting the trial, I understood my medicine to be minimally effective at best. I didn’t want to spend additional money on a trip back to Houston to receive a prescription. We exchanged a few emails until it was time for me to go to bed. The next morning, I immediately checked my email to see if I had received any information. My oncologist wrote me back. This is a part of what it read:
We did not find the mutation that we were told you had, so you would not be going into the trial we discussed, but rather to therapy with one of the established agents.
I couldn’t believe what I read. I thought that there was no way my eyes could have seen the print correctly or that my brain was even awake yet. I did not have the t315i mutation that I was told I had?! I was as equally ecstatic and confused. I wrote back right away:
Dr. Cortes, I had to read that three or four times. That is the best news that I could have heard!! Is this really true? I don’t have the t315i mutation? That is life changing news. Is the game plan Sprycel or Tasigna as previously discussed?
I had a meeting at work that morning. It’s a forty minute commute to the main office and I probably spent about fifteen or twenty minutes of that drive crying tears of joy and thankfulness. To be told by Southwestern Medical Center at the end of July that I had a mutation that would alter everything about this ever enduring fight to survive, only to be informed over two months later by one of the best cancer centers in the world that there is no obvious evidence of the mutation in my body was one of the most incomprehensible things I’ve had to process since learning of my diagnosis almost five years ago. In two months, I had prepared my heart for the trials, tribulations, and mental hurdles I knew I’d have to overcome and in an instant it all became somewhat void. I knew I didn’t understand it, but I also knew that I couldn’t walk into a room full of people with red eyes so I did the only thing I knew to do and I called my mom to tell her. I thought this would help, but somehow the happiness and surprise in my mom’s voice further induced tears of joy.
I couldn’t help to spread the news that morning. I was beaming with happiness. Part of living with Leukemia is trying to avoid the emotional highs and lows. Naturally, I was still a little reluctant to believe that the news was wholly plausible. I mean, how could it have been? I had asked Dr. Cortes during the initial meeting how subjective the tests are. He said that there was a possibility that it could be (as I’ve gotten used to with everything), but that the lab that did the UT Southwestern mutation test was a reliable outfit. Dr. Cortes didn’t believe that we’d receive any other result, but of course, MD Anderson wanted their own opinion so they had it sent to the lab that they’re associated with. A little later that afternoon, Dr. Cortes responded to my email from that morning:
We indeed did not find this mutation. We need to consider the possibility that it might be present at very low levels that were not detected by our test. We will monitor through therapy. For now we would indeed start you on therapy with one of these drugs.
And that’s where we stand. I’ll be on standard medication for as long as…well I know better than to suggest certainty. I have so much more to express about this news, but I’ve had so little time to sit down and write anything thoughtful and with purpose. Hopefully, I can get to that soon, but as for now I want you to know that if you’ve prayed for me during this tough time, you have made a difference. I am a testimony to the power of prayer. I ask that you continue to pray for me and my family.
Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart.