Clearly, the odds weren't with standard protocols - my only real option was to consider a clinical trial. Getting into a clinical trial and getting treatment was not easy. Turns out you've got to be a detective. You also need a "Cancer-ierge", or Cancierge, my name for someone who can help you navigate the process.  Your Cancierge writes the questions you need to ask at your appointments, takes notes and stays by your side. My Cancierge is my husband Mike - he's been amazing at his new job! Plus, he can tell a good joke - laughter is the most underrated form of treatment.

We started at Georgetown University Hospital, more because we lived near the hospital than for anything else, but they didn't focus on Melanoma Cancer. I met my first Melanoma Specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, but timing issues left me without an option in the clinical trial I wanted. My doctor at MSK suggested Vanderbilt, but that didn’t work out, either. I then tried Texas Oncology and The Angeles Clinic but finally struck gold at UCLA.  

Since we live in a suburb of Washington, DC, this was going to be a big commute. It took me until February 28 before I could start the clinical trial at UCLA - it was a Phase I trial for PLX4032 (now known as Vemurafenib or Zelboraf). I’ve been active on this clinical trial ever since, and during this time this drug has not only stopped my cancer from growing, it’s now only a fraction of its original (baseline) size. I've had side effects – hair loss, skin rash, cysts everywhere, night sweats, nausea and diarrhea. But, all in all, not bad relative to what I could have happened. My most recent PET/CT scan didn't show melanoma progression.  Heck, nothing on that scan lit up! I’m hoping that PLX4032 is the magic pill that makes my Melanoma go away. PLX4032/ ZELBORAF has been one of the fastest drugs ever approved by the FDA and it is changing how we fight cancer. During this odyssey my husband Mike and I learned some interesting facts. 

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