We are all so proud of Nancy and are thinking of her and Jake as they travel to Washington DC this morning because Nancy will provide testimony at the FDA hearing on Avastin. The hearing will take place tomorrow, and Nancy will have three minutes to tell her story. There will be a live webcast of the testimony for us to watch, but in order to gain access, you need to pre-register.
We are all with you in spirit and are confident you will be remarkable because you ARE remarkable, Nancy!Her acceptance to participate in this important event was based on the following letter:
Hello Ms. Williams,
I am living with stage 4 breast cancer and was successfully treated with Avastin and Abraxane (paclitaxel). I am interested in publically testifying in June and am trying to understand whether I would be assured a time slot. I will be flying from Seattle at my own expense and don’t want to book flights/hotel unless I’m certain that I’ll have a chance to speak.
I’m 41 years old and have extensive metastatic disease, with multiple tumors in my liver, lungs and spine. At the time of my stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis in September 2009, I was in agonizing pain, had 42 tumors in my lungs, 14 tumors in my liver, and 2 in my spine. After 8 months on Avastin/Abraxane, my tumors were reduced significantly, my pain was nearly eliminated and my quality of life is excellent. I tolerated Avastin extremely well, with very minimal side effects. Even while on this treatment, I actively participated in vigorous hiking with a group of cancer survivors and even climbed to the top of Mt. Adams, elevation 12,276 feet.
I would welcome the opportunity to share more about my experience as I believe I may need to use this treatment again when my cancer progresses and I run out of other treatments. I’m also concerned for the woman diagnosed tomorrow who won’t have this powerful treatment available.
As you know, most cancer therapies have dangerous side effects and can be extremely expensive. I’ve had many chemotherapies and treatments over the past 9 years since my original stage 2 diagnosis in 2002 including Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol, Methotrexate, 5-FU, Zometa, and radiation. All of these treatments have had dangerous side effects and required additional medications and medical monitoring to ensure the treatments themselves didn’t cause my death rather than the cancer. I’ve had the usual list of side effects, neutropenia, nausea, hair loss, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and so forth. Damage from the Adriamycin and radiation treatment is still visible on my scans today. When my oncologist had me sign the consent form for Avastin, it frankly seemed pretty mild compared to other therapies. My blood pressure did go up a couple points and I did have a few bloody noses, very trivial side effects compared to what I have experienced from other drugs. From a cost perspective, Avastin was about the same price as these other treatments and was thankfully covered by my insurance. I estimate that I’ve had close to $2M in treatment, surgical, and diagnostic expenses over the past 9 years, the cost of Avasin was perhaps 1 - 2% of the total (rough estimate).
Thank you for your consideration. I am happy to provide more details if needed.