So my dad had his appointment today! First off, his doctor is AMAZING. I mean, he's so kind, caring, and you can genuinely tell his heart is in it.
Overall the appointment went well! My dad was tested for something called the BRAF mutation, which would open us up to clinical trials/more chemo options. He does not have the BRAF mutation. Instead, he has one called the NRAS mutation. It's a genetic mutation that is only in his tumors-it's not something that has been passed down to my sister and I. The NRAS mutation is rare and is what makes his melanoma extremely fast growing and aggressive. Unfortunately, it also extremely limits the treatments available to him.
So the bad news: because of the NRAS mutation and the fact the melanoma has spread to his brain, he only has one chemo option available to him. It's called Yervoy and it's just under 2 years old. It's used in patients with the NRAS mutation and who has brain metastises (sp?). When it works, it can extend the life of a patient up to a couple years. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. It's not like a typical chemo where you lose hair, get sick, etc. It boosts your immune system, so his side effects could be hepatitis (that goes away when the chemo is stopped), pancreatitis, neurological issues, colitis, skin rashes, diarrhea. Some patients don't have any side effects, and some get all of them. If he gets any of the more severe side effects, the chemo must be stopped. He will be doing the chemo once every three weeks for a total of 12 weeks, and a total of four treatments. It's pretty much a toss-up with whether it will help shrink the tumors. It either will, or it won't, and we'll know after the 2nd or 3rd treatment if it is effective. He won't lose any hair, so that is a definite plus.
The leg tumor is inoperable and the oncologist explained to us why. Basically, because it's fused to the bone, an operation in this scenario is only done if it is going to cause the bone to break. Since it causes my dad minimal pain, and it isn't compromsing the bone's integrity, they are going to leave it and hope the Yervoy shrinks the tumor.
My dad is very optimistic and the dr said "You are in for a very hard and long fight" and my dad said he's ready for it. So he's going in with the right attitude!
The Yervoy costs $120,000.00 total for all four treatments, so we have to wait for insurance to do their thing. Whatever they won't cover the Yervoy company will cover the rest, so that is definitely reassuring.
Thank you for the continued prayers and support. Let's just pray together that this new drug will help him, that he'll be able to tolerate it, and that it will shrink the cancer! If all of the above fails, he is literally out of options.