Rosy outlook

Professor Hope had arranged for me to visit two research centres that were carrying out Phase I trials.  Phase I drugs have previously been tested in the laboratories but never on humans. Current Consultant had told us I wasn’t eligible for any trials but it turned out there were scores of them, although they were mostly in the very early stages of testing. In Phase 1 researchers are still trying to find out the optimal dose of these new drugs, with the starting dose being very low. This is gradually increased in very small test groups of patients who fulfil the criteria, so if you join an early group the dose is likely to be so low that it won’t make any difference. But when you’ve been given months to live, a shot in the dark is preferable to no shots at all.

The three of us headed off to see the research specialist; me with my limp, John with his positive attitude and Tom, nervous but full of purpose.

Sometimes in life you meet people who seem to have it all; extremely intelligent, good looking and super nice. The lovely doctor we met ticked all three of these boxes. I’ll refer to her on the blog as Dr Rosy because of her rosy disposition.  I warmed to her instantly.  She chatted with us, asked us what we did, told us how we were in good hands with Professor Hope and she thought that someday he would be famous. Dr Rosy explained the risks of a Phase I trial and answered all of our questions.  If the Capecitabine didn’t work she had a trial for me starting in August, which would give me time to try two cycles of the chemotherapy, get scanned and have a three or four week washout period before I started the trial.

It was explained that research into cancer was now taking a different approach. When drugs had previously failed in shrinking tumours they had been tossed aside, but now the scientists were looking at not curing but managing the disease – much like diabetes. This made perfect sense to me.  Aside from the limp I had no ill effects from the cancer living in my bones, liver and lungs. If a drug could be invented just to stop the cancer growing I could live with these tumours, and some of the trials they were running were designed to ‘chop off the legs off’ the cancer cells so they couldn’t spread.

At the end of the meeting a similar feeling to when I’d seen Professor Hope washed over me. I challenge anyone to go to a cancer research centre and not leave completely in awe of the people that work there. God knows how professional footballers or film stars dare to have such egos when people like Dr Rosy and Professor Hope do such genuinely amazing things.

Professor Hope and Dr Rosy had begun the process of rescuing us from the defeatism and despair provoked by the attitudes of the doctors I’d been seeing at my current hospital. They talked about new and exciting findings, of options and possibilities.  There was no mention of timescales.  There was a mind-set of what could be done, not what will happen.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cait
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 11:54:44

    Hi Ellie, I am delighted that you have been given some hope. I am 31 with stage 4 breast cancer so I can understand what you are going through. Can I ask are you hormone positive or Her2 positive?


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:18:36

      Hi Cait,
      Thanks for reading, I was hormone receptive when I was first diagnosed but my cancer had ‘flipped’ and is now triple negative! I had a local recurrence on my chest when I was diagnosed with the secondaries and it turned out it was triple negative. Apparently this is very unusual!


  2. Hannah
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 18:02:57

    Ellie you are so right. Whenever I hear about how much money ‘celebrities’ are paid for such meaningless work compared to the work of people like Dr Hope and Dr Rosey, and others in the health service, it makes me so cross. Brillaintly written as always my dear. Hugs from the Bennetts xxx


  3. Tina
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 22:13:46

    Hi ellie
    I’m really enjoying reading your blog- it’s fantastically written and definately should be published! (But I’m obviusly sorry you’ve had such a crap time with breast cancer have had reason to write it iykwim…!).
    I can really relate to much of what you have written, being another youngie with advanced bc (stage 4 triple neg aged 33). There’s so little hope out there I’m glad you have found some. Maybe I should go see ‘Dr Hope’ (but my onc would say I need ‘Dr Miracle’ she’s so negative!).
    Looking forward to reading more hearing how well you are doing 🙂
    Tina x


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 22:32:30

      Thanks for reading Tina. I’m sorry to hear your oncologist is so negative, if you feel you’re not getting the best care I’d definitely recommend seeking out a second opinion. I really think if we can just hang on long enough there will be new treatments to ‘keep us going’ for as long as possible. Sending positiveness and prayers your way x


  4. Kath
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:24:49

    Ellie – What an amazing blog! I am fully in awe of you.

    I suppose in a strange way I feel guilty and almost awkward about adding to your website. I hope you don’t think I’m rude.

    I’m a pal of Philippa’s and have heard (from her) the horrendously rough time you have been through. I have been absolutely absorbed reading your blog and feel such an immense feeling of ‘unfairness’ as to why it’s happened to you. Why it happens to anyone. Your blog is soooooooooo well written, I can definitely see why you’re a journalist! A bloody good one at that! Apologies for my spelling and grammar – numbers are my forte!

    I just want to say that I wish you the speediest recovery and I have every confidence that you will come out of it smiling. I read that you’re not religious but when my mum and two big brothers were out in Lourdes this summer, they lit a candle with your name on it! I hope that’s ok too.

    Best wishes and next time you’re in Newcastle visiting Pips, let me know!!

    Kath x


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Sep 01, 2011 @ 21:13:16

      The more readers the better Kath! I cant put into words how much all the good wishes from everyone mean to me. It might sound cheesy but I think it really does make a difference. Please thank your mum and two brothers for lighting a candle for me and thank you for reading and taking the time out to comment – it’s always nice to get responses to the blog.
      Best wishes,
      Ellie x


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