You don’t know how much you will miss something until it is taken away from you.  Two weeks ago something was taken away from me: my ability to walk without assistance. It all happened without warning.  I was watching TV with the family on a Saturday, preparing for the next 3 zaps of ration treatment. I had so far had two. On Monday I was supposed to start the final three and… Read More

Balancing the need to conserve energy and it being unfair for the entire Facebook & Twitter social media Universes to know the latest on me while you don’t, I am simply cutting & pasting the latest medical news on me from my Facebook post from last week (Twitter also just got a copy & pasted Facebook post). As a reminder: I keep Facebook in constant up to the moment update on my… Read More

What a long strange trip the past month and a half has been as I started my first immunotherapy treatment (atezolizumab + FOLFIRI + bevacizumab), as I reported in my earlier post “Positive Sign or False Hope? Time Will Tell…”.  The first two infusions went by pretty well – their side main effects (tumor site pain, fevers, fatigue) perhaps signs of successful immune activation! Then something happened After writing that post, the… Read More

So this is what GOING OFF-ROADING – EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT STRATEGY STYLE feels like… What an interesting couple of weeks I have had since my last medical update (link above)!  “Interesting” is a well… an interesting word isn’t it?  It doesn’t have positive or negative connotations… it is just what it is… interesting. Some sort of brew of the unexpected that can be good or bad depending on the circumstance. My brew was either… Read More

Yes, it is time for another medical update! It is funny… the original intent of this blog (before I published the first post) was for it to be a vehicle to give medical updates to friends and family.  Starting with the first post “TAKING THE LATEST TREATMENT PLUNGE” I decided to make the scope of the blog much broader and deeper than that – which I believe happened – to an AMAZING degree!… Read More

This week is one of those weeks where a bunch of important things are happening, across a wide range of my life!  I was trying to think of how to organize into a blog post – easier said than done, so I decided to just go chronological — a week in the Life of Tom!  The picture above was technically from the previous week but I had to show it – a… Read More

I went and got a haircut this week.  No that was not meant to be the single most boring start to a blog post in the history of cancer blogging – it was meant to make a point. I was excited to go get a haircut!  Why?  It has been months since my last one.  I was largely bedridden and 100% housebound (aside from medical appointments) for a couple of months last… Read More

I wanted to give an update – both in how things have been going and also what my next plans are (hint: I have to arrive at the hospital for a surgical biopsy at 6:30 AM today!) Looking Backward Compared to last winter and spring (OK, compared to last month!), I find it hard to accurately describe how much things have turned around, how good things are going relative to before and… Read More

I wanted to write a quick post update, this one to report on how my “Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (Y90-SIRT)” procedure done on the right lobe of my liver went yesterday. We won’t know efficacy results for a while (so that is still very much in finger crossing, hoping & praying territory!) but in terms of the procedure and side effects it was a very successful day! The day started out with a few… Read More

Well the day is finally just about here!  After a longer than wished for wait over the course of May, tomorrow I go in for my first liver-focused therapy – my first attack on the liver front of the war! At 10:00 AM tomorrow morning I’ll be checking in at the UCSD Hillcrest hospital to treat the right lobe of my liver with “Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (Y90-SIRT)” a fascinating medical technology… Read More

What a week I had last week!  Taken overall it was a GREAT week.  It was extremely hectic and not without some blemishes towards the end, but overall… it was a great week.  The type of week that doesn’t happen often enough in the lives of advanced stage, Stage IV cancer patients (and associates caregivers and families) once the disease enters into late stage. What made it so great?  While I had… Read More

“Ironic” – as shown in the above pictured definition of “Ironic” from the Urban Dictionary – is a word that is often misused in contemporary life but when it comes to my “Cancer Life”, I think it is perfect.  I do not think my Cancer Life is just “coincidental”…. And I certainly do NOT think my cancer life is “tragic”!  But has it been, from the very beginning, a series of events… Read More

A brief update… and an explanation why I have been slow to write update posts recently… My disease has really taken off into a much more aggressive form with a significant increase in symptoms. It has become pretty rough on both my family & me… I have been working 24/7 with both doctors and scientists on medical options since my last medical update and I am beyond excited to say that I… Read More

There is something deeply visceral about your brain… It is the center of thought… It is the center of your being… it is the center of who you are… All of those aspects of the brain came crashing down around me late last week.  I had gotten a PET-CT scan to see how my disease was responding to my current therapy and there was a surprise. A bad surprise.  There was a bright… Read More

Both psychologically and practically it is interesting how a cancer patient’s attitude and approach to chemotherapy changes over the course of a “Cancer Career”.  That is a phrase that just popped into my mind recently… “Cancer Career”.  I am fast approaching the 5-year anniversary of my metastatic cancer diagnosis (June 4, 2012).  5 years, starting when I was 40 years old.  Considering that my adult life started when I was 22 (I… Read More

Wow. What an incredible week it has been… I am tearing up now just thinking about it as I fly home from New York City (NYC) to my home and my family in San Diego. A lot of people have been wondering how I have been doing since the last medical update (In Case of Emergency Break Glass).  It is hard to believe that it has been almost a month since that… Read More

Well… a blog post I certainly don’t want to write and I did not plan on writing… I was told to never bury the lead of a story – so here it is: My oncolytic virus clinical trial plans have been canceled (hopefully just postponed). What? How?? Why??? I assure you the decision was not made lightly but it is also a decision I am 100% comfortable was the correct one to… Read More

As readers of this blog know, physically I have been going through a rough patch the past 6 weeks or so.  Thankfully, something that is now changing! The sudden ramp up of pain right before Christmas that I have written about which impacted me and my entire family physically, mentally and emotionally, the recent loss of a close friend  and the endurance of a round of radiotherapy the past three weeks, which was… Read More

Just a short IMMUNOTHERAPY CLINICAL TRIAL update post today- The phone call just came in last night: The Clinical Trial Countdown Clock has officially started! As a reminder, here is the Phase 1b trial I will be participating in: “Phase I Study of Enadenotucirev and PD-1 Inhibitor in Subjects With Metastatic or Advanced Epithelial Tumors (SPICE)” (NCT02636036) The pre-trial process at City of Hope Cancer Center up in LA will start on Feb…. Read More

An incredibly intense series of events have been happening to me medically over the past month – life changing events for both me and my family.  Things were happening so quickly, I haven’t been able to provide updates here – but today I’ll change that.  Today, you will hear what has been going on.   It was a rough month – for both me and my entire family – but I am honestly… Read More

I feel so extraordinary, Something’s got a hold on me I get this feeling I’m in motion, A sudden sense of liberty… I used to think that the day would never come, I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun “In many ways 2015 was the most incredible year of my life.  Over 3 years into a currently incurable Stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, that phrase says a lot.” That… Read More

In the immortal words of our most recent Nobel Prize Laureate Bob Dylan , the times they are a changin’…  This morning I will be having my final Full Fury (FOLFIRI) chemo infusion for the foreseeable future.  A chemo cocktail that I first had the joy of encountering way back in 2012, and after restarting it, have been doing continuously (minus some #CannonballLife breaks) for the past 12 months.  Restarting FOLFIRI last… Read More

Pain. I’ve been very fortunate over the past over 4 ½ years since my cancer diagnosis.  I had some pain immediately before my diagnosis from my primary tumor but ever since that surgery in June 2012, I have lived a pain-free life.  Except for an occasional cough in-between treatment regimens, zero symptoms of cancer. Sure I have chemo side effects to deal with, especially when I switched over to Full Fury (oops… Read More

As long time readers of my blog know – I have been in a quandary since I was diagnosed with (presumably cured) Stage 1 melanoma in January 2015.  That diagnosis, even though presumably cured by simple day surgery, with zero signs of recurrence ever since e.g. by monitoring with blood liquid biopsy, effectively blocked me from most colorectal cancer (CRC) clinical trials. Without clinical trials there is statistically an essentially 100% chance… Read More

Photo graphic courtesy of STAT News, Photo by James Cuevas I hear questions all the time for an update on my personalized “neoantigen” immunotherapy research project – a project I first wrote about in blog format last February. If you want to know a broader view (both historical background and current status) about our quest to cure both my own MSS-CRC & efforts to lead the way for fellow MSS colorectal cancer patients as… Read More

Hope – it is such a simple, yet complex word. A short word that is easy to explain on the base-level but it can be incredibly complex to comprehend all the facets in which it can impact the human psyche. Hope can be rational or irrational – the human brain has trouble distinguishing.  Are we paralyzed in fear that we will not be alive for the next major Holiday?  No – we… Read More

I had my post-summer-chemo-break CT-scan on Wednesday.  Regrets & worry started to try to enter my consciousness.  They were unwelcome invaders and to be honest, rarely seen or felt in my psyche now days.  But here they were – as I laid on the CT-scan table getting scanned…. Laying there completely alone, unlike the constant buzz of comradery that had surrounded me throughout my summer. A scan to quantify how much my… Read More

The CT-guided lung biopsy mentioned in my previous post was completed today at the University of Michigan without complications! It is intended to provide both DNA and RNA sequencing data for my personalized immunotherapy project – so I was bouncing with excitement when I entered the CT-scanning room this morning. I was surprised on the table to find out I would be wide awake for the entire procedure.  That + starting to picture the… Read More

What do you do when two fully qualified major medical centers give you opposite medical advice?  What do you do when the decision impacts your personal colorectal cancer (CRC) immunotherapy research and shot at a cure?  Today, I want to provide a medical update related to my personalized immunotherapy research project but while doing that, also discuss a major issue which impacts many cancer patients, myself included, conflicting medical advice. ‘Ask your… Read More

I just wanted to give a brief personal medical update and my related summer plans! With the exception of my diagnosis summer (2012) when potentially curative chemo was given ASAP, I have always had the “goal” (when medically possible) to take summers off from treatment.  Even though I am terminally optimistic, I am also realistic… part of Stage IV life is thinking through the memories you are generating for your kids –… Read More

A very brief medical update! Being hit by a FOLFIRI chemo infusion today only 48 hours after running the team triathlon truly feels bizarre… But that is one of the crazy aspects of Stage IV life! You swing from doing the absolutely “normal” (commuting to work, dinner out with the family) to being knocked out in an infusion chair and crawling into bed “bowl handy” as soon as you get home afterwards…… Read More

As a mirror to my post in February called “One Little Number”, I wanted to write a very short post tonight called “The (Positive) Power of One Little Number”  It shows the wild-emotional swings of Stage IV cancer – as you careen back and forth between positive and negative data. The number referred to in both posts is the blood tumor marker: Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).  It is usually monitored during Stage IV colorectal… Read More

It’s hard to believe that it has already been almost 12 months since I last ran a UCSD-Moores Cancer Center Team Triathlon, which I wrote about last year in my post THE ULTIMATE TEAM SPORT: “A big part of being a cancer patient is trying your hardest to not give up in the face of adversity.  In that way it is very similar to endurance sports.  This is what makes the Moores… Read More

To begin with, my CT scan was good – my tumors are shrinking from the FOLFIRI + Avastin chemotherapy I am currently taking!  I have had a 4 week break – the side effects go away after 3 weeks, so I even recently snuck in a 10k run! 🙂 I will be continuing to take chemo biweekly for now.  But that is a battle win (which I am very happy for!!) –… Read More

In many ways 2015 was the most incredible year of my life. Over 3 years into a currently incurable Stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, that phrase says a lot.  Of course, the most incredible moments in my life were my kids’ births and my marriage day.  But in terms of almost continuous meaningful things happening….. as a year, 2015 took the cake. I had ZERO guess that any of this was coming… Read More

As I announced in my most recent medical update post “It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint”, this week I started the chemotherapy cocktail FOLFIRI  + the angiogenesis inhibitor Avastin (bevacizumab). I wanted to update you on how the return to chemo went. I won’t sugarcoat this decision nor the experience. I believe my writing, fellow survivors & you all deserve brutal honesty – but it is, as always, Hope filled.  Hope is… Read More

I don’t normally write blog posts so close together but I know everyone has been curious what my new treatment plan would be after I announced 3 weeks ago that I had become resistant to Erbitux.  Since then, there has been radio silence in terms of my next step treatment plan but I assure you things have been very active in the background… I just couldn’t post an update until plans became clear…. Read More

Medically it has been an eventful 7 days – I had not one but two different very important CT-scans: one in the ER, the other scheduled to check the success of my August lung surgery and current Erbitux treatments.  If you remember my previous post about the end of the runathon, I mentioned that my lungs had been giving me some trouble. I wrote: “Purely from a health perspective, even though I… Read More

Just a quick update that my radiofrequency ablation (RFA) lung surgery #2 this morning was a success!  It looks like another two lung tumors were successfully fried to a crisp – one more step forward on the overall therapeutics + surgery treatment path I wrote so excitedly about last week!.  I’m determined to enthusiastically attack this disease from multiple directions – as the nurses in pre-op saw bright and early this morning 🙂… Read More

I’m thrilled to let you know that my surgeon has agreed to give me another Lung Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) surgery on August 27th! The second half of this post focusing on the Postive Power of Hope is quite meaningful to me & the meat of the post, so I hope you decide to read that far in!  He hopes to remove another 2-3 more tumors.  I already wrote extensively a few months ago on what the… Read More

Time for a medical update – I had a CT-scan on Monday to see how things looked and I got the results back tonight.  Overall pretty good news- Just the facts man (to paraphrase Joe): – No new spots (GREAT!!) – Most my current spots were stable, a few “might” have grown 1 mm.  But that is basically error bar range of the measurement, so I’m officially “stable”. For this entire journey I’ve… Read More

My lung radiofrequency ablation surgery went very smoothly today – easy peasy! The excellent interventional radiology surgeon blasted the largest tumor & also retrieved tumor tissue for genetics. He “thinks” he got enough biopsy tissue for both tumor Whole Genome Sequencing and RNA-Sequencing but crossing fingers – we’ll see… I’m a little sore but really not too bad at all… It just feels like I have been bench-pressing (too much 🙂 )  BY… Read More

Just a brief update that my lung radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure is happening tomorrow (Thursday) at noon!  I posted the details describing the procedure previously here.  Assuming there are no complications like (a pretty rare) collapsed lung (blah blah blah), it will be a single-night hospital stay and I expect to be recovering at home on Friday & back to work on Monday! I’m VERY EXCITED to be doing this – going on… Read More

At the end of my previous “A VERY GOOD DAY ON THE BATTLE FRONT! (CT SCAN RESULTS ET AL)” post I mentioned that with my good CT scan results:  “I’m fighting on one battle line & I won a battle today”.  As a direct consequence of that scan, I and my medical team have decided it is now time to open up a new battle line of direct attack. But first, I… Read More

Scanxiety noun : the tension which builds, particularly among those who have or have had cancer, as they move towards their regular checkup scan. All cancer patients approach scan days differently.  I have friends that get so nervous approaching a scan they literally have to take anti-nausea medicine. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have friends that manage to stay quite sanguine as their scans approach.  Still others are simply… Read More

After coasting yesterday and letting Tami Boehmer do all the writing, I figured it was time for me to write a real post since it has been a while.  I’ve already written about the science behind my anti-EGFR therapy here.  I think what I wrote is already a fascinating scientific story and hopefully it becomes even more so in the future after I see how successful my current experiment has been… 😉… Read More

Just a quick update on my anti-EGFR Therapy… I just got back from my Oncologist  appt.  He was downright giddy happy/excited to see the scope of my EGFR rash! 🙂 Oncology drug side effects are graded on a scale of 1-4 (well, technically a scale of 1-5 but 5 equals ….. let’s not go there.) My rash is officially “Grade 2” which is EXACTLY the “sweet spot” I wanted to be in… Read More

I had a (relatively 🙂 ) quiet week, so I wanted to take the opportunity to  write another “Common Question Answered” post to try to explain in easily understood language the new treatment I recently started for my CRC (an anti-EGFR therapeutic antibody called cetuximab).  I’ve found that there is a real curiosity among both fellow patients as well as the general public to understand why certain drugs are used for cancer therapy,… Read More

It has been an interesting month to say the least… on top of the complicated medical appointment logistics of dealing with simultaneous melanoma + CRC and the melanoma surgery & CRC scans themselves, were the scientific talk 3-day (!)  trip to Barcelona, the subsequent (but unrelated) beginning of our major house remodel project (to borrow a phrase from economics – schöpferische Zerstörung i.e. the cringe-worthy “creative destruction” of our home of >10 years… Read More

It never ceases to amaze me how life is such a constant fluctuating mixture of highs & lows.  Maybe I am just hyper-observant now compared to the average person but as I began to write an update (I know many people are curious about the Melanoma) – I was astonished at the incredible range of “good” and “bad” events that have taken place in my life in just the past week! So… Read More


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