We received excellent news this past Wednesday. The first set of follow up scans to compare since I began treatment were done on Tuesday 6/5/18 and the doctor shared the results with us on 6/6/18 that I have no new tumors detected and that all of the tumors are either stable or have shrunk in size! Also, they could only see 5 of the brain tumors (and all brain tumors are smaller) compared to 6 previously, so one of them has reduced is size so much they couldn't detect it or it may have even gone away!!
Originally I was told that the response rate to the immunotherapy treatment I'm taking is about 50% of people. The doctor said that the progress I made in 6 weeks is very promising and at the top of the scale for what we could have hoped for. I received the 3rd dose of the Ipilimumab and Nivolumab drugs on Wednesday 6/6/18 after my appointment with the oncologist.
In three weeks I will receive the 4th and final dose of the two drugs, and then three weeks later (6 weeks from now) they will do another MRI and CT scan to compare again. Because my immune system has been able to respond to the tumors with the help of the drugs, it is very (highly) likely we can see the same progress continue. After completing the 4th dose of the two drugs, it switches to being a once a month dose of just the Nivolumab for up to 24 months. The Nivolumab by itself has milder potential side effects compared to currently being mixed with the Ipilimumab.
The main side effect I've had to this point is fatigue. I also have severe stomach pain some days and itchy skin comes and goes. Absolutely nothing to complain about! I also met with the pain support doctor this trip and he took me off of Celebrex and kept the long acting morphine of 30mg twice a day at the same level.
This news has been a huge relief! For the past 6 weeks we haven't known where it was all heading. The support and well wishes from family, friends and loved ones has been overwhelmingly amazing! Thank you and we'll update you when the next set of scans are done in 6 weeks! Love to all!
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Harvey & Erica Braden
Journal of our journey with a Metastatic Melanoma Diagnosis. Erica was diagnosed Stage 3 in January 2010 and then Stage 4 in April 2018.