Today was the day of the press conference. It was very exciting. There were cameras there. There were doctors there. There were fellow bloggers there. There were other cancer patients there. The energy and excitement in the room was amazing. There are no words that could describe the energy in the room. As I type that, I already want to take that back. There is ONE word that can describe the energy. Hopeful. Everyone is filled with hope. What I found out about the program is that the President of MD Anderson, Dr. DePinho is launching a "Moonshots" program. Through this program he picked several cancers Breast, Ovarian (RIP Jill), Leukemia AML/MDS/CLL, Lung, Prostate and Melanoma to "dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths."
MD Anderson has over 3 billion dollars that is readily available to jump start this program. Dr. DePinho compares his vision of that of John F Kennedy's vision to put a man on the moon. We had the science to do it and instead of talking about it, we just needed to get it done. And we did. So, I am full of hope. I hope that the program is everything Dr. DePinho dreams of. Cancer research has significantly declined over the years due to lack of funding. Let's hope MD Anderson gets research back on the right track and stops melanoma (as well as these other cancers and eventually ALL cancers) in it's tracks.
Read more about the moonshots program at http://cancermoonshots.org/
After the press conference, Steve was interviewed by the communications staff. They wanted some video feedback of his thoughts about the program. He and some other fellow cancer patients also had a small photo shoot. They are going to be using these photos to create banners and posters. Who knows where they will be? Billboards? Websites? Waiting Areas? Hanging throughout MD Anderson? I am sad that my husband has to BE a face of cancer, but so very proud of him for stepping up and BEING a face of cancer.
After the press conference, interview and photo shoot, Steve had some stuff to do at the main campus. We headed over and got his labs drawn, he had an EKG to be sure his heart is healthy enough to start the Zelboraf next week, and we picked up his Zelboraf prescription. Interestingly enough, a research nurse called him while we were there and was able to meet up with us between appointments. He is joining a research study. The study is based on molecular testing. Due to this being a study, everything pertaining to this will be free of charge. He will have labs drawn and they will compare the genes in the blood with the tumor biopsy they already have on file. They will then do genetic testing to look for mutations in cancer related genes. He will be "enrolled" in this study for 20 years. They are looking for 5000 people and have gotten about 600 so far. So, they have a ways to go to get to 5000 participants. This information will be very valuable. This testing will look at over 400 mutations. We know Steve has the BRAF 601 mutation, but it is possible that there are other mutations that they don't even know to look for. That is the purpose of this study. To check these mutations, compare them in patients with the same type of cancer, etc so that Dr's will know what types of mutations to test for and so scientists know what types of mutations they need to target their drugs against. All of this is so very interesting to me. I am seriously contemplating going back to school so that I can join one of these teams!!
Here are some photos from today's event: