Dear Dr Weisenthal,
Back in May of last year at my insistence I had submitted a sample for screening prior to beginning chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC (diagnosed stage IIIB or IV). As a result of your screening I commenced a regimen of Gemzar, carboplatin, navelbine high dose Tamoxifen and Iressa! I completed 6 x 3 week cycles incorporating 2 doses per cycle with the exception of carboplatin which was administered only once per cycle. After two cycles the main mass in my lung had reduced 85% and lymph nodes were virtually undetectable. After 4 cycles the CT of my lung showed only a small residual mass which was not detected by PET. A small contrast in the MRI of my brain has remained unchanged throughout my treatment and is now thought to be unrelated to my cancer. I have just had my first scan since completing the IV chemotherapy in October 2003 (I have continued on Iressa at 250mg/day) and all appears unchanged and I am still considered a Complete Response by my oncologist.
First of all I would like to thank you for the service you provide and
hope that in the not too distant future I get to thank you in person. Without
the screen I firmly believe I would have been placed on standard therapy
which would not have been nearly
as effective and, according to my oncologist, I certainly would not have ever been treated with the combination that had shown activity in the screen. I am certainly grateful for my second chance at life and have been contemplating ways that I can help
to pay back for the gift I have been given.
To that end I have several areas that I would like to get involved in
that would include participation of your group. We had talked by phone
briefly as I was going through treatment and you indicated a need to conduct
a clinical trial to compare
directed therapy with standard therapy. My oncologist, Dr <name redacted> at the Hospital of the University of <Name of institution redacted>, who now appears to be a firm convert to the benefits of your prescreening, has expressed an interest in being involved in conducting such a trial. I would like to help in any way I can in setting up such a trial using both my personal cancer experience as well as my professional background in pharmaceutical drug development.
Finally I have been surprised and dismayed at the lack of basic knowledge
of these tests. In a large institution such as <Name of institution
redacted> where they must treat thousands of patients the nurses there
had told me I was the only patient they
had seen that had had these tests done! Even experienced oncologists seem to have only a rudimentary understanding of the assays, if they even happen to know of their existence. I am trying to think of ways that I can become an advocate to raise awareness of the assays in the medical community who are after all the most important group to educate on their use. Hopefully my involvement and phenomenal result can help in convincing some of the skeptics as to the benefit these tests can have.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you on any or all of these topics. You can contact me by return e-mail or by phone at <redacted>.
Again thank you so much, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Best Regards, <name redacted>