04 September 2014

Big News Today: Merck Receives FDA Approval for Keytruda (Pembrolizumab)

So - first things first, I had my appointment at Sloan today.  Some know that on Tuesday I had my 3 month scans.  Results are in - no substantial change or evidence of recurrent metastatic disease!!!  I started Merck's Anti-PD1 aka MK-3475 aka PEmbrolizumab and now Keytruda in Jan 2013.  Today was round 29!  I have had very few side effects, and in almost 2 years nothing growing and nothing new!  In the world of Melanoma, that is a pretty big deal!

While at my appointment today, my doctor and I had a long conversation around when we thought approval might happen (you will remember last week sharing stories about how rumors were saying it may go earlier than Oct 28th).  We were also trying to figure out what does that mean for patients like me on trials?  Perhaps my time as a guinea pig is coming to an end?  Either way, it was well worth it to help move things ahead for the treatment of Melanoma!

Below a few articles on the approval and the drug!  Looks like this will be another spendy one! But I suppose we can't really put a price on life, right?

Hope everyone is well!  Remember - get your skin checks done!  Melanoma is very easy to treat when caught early!


A few articles:

Merck Receives Accelerated Approval of KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the First FDA-Approved Anti-PD-1 Therapy

27 August 2014

Chatter around FDA Approval of Merck's Anti-PD1

Many of you will probably remember that I've shared that Merck's Anti-PD1 Pembrolizumab (yeah, yeah, drug names are never easy to pronounce or spell...) is set for FDA approval end of October.  This week has started out with a lot of buzz around this potentially going sooner!  I know a lot of fellow patients hoping and praying for this!  

According to one article
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are likely to approve Merck & Co's highly anticipated immuno-oncology drug, pembrolizumab, as a treatment for melanoma well ahead of a late October deadline, according to three sources familiar with the situation."

Stay tuned!  I'm lucky in the fact that I already have access to this, and have had great results!  But I know so many patients that would LOVE an opportunity to at least try it to fight against Melanoma. 


19 August 2014

Another one in the books

Hey Folks - I may sound like a broken record lately and been MIA.  First, don't worry, it has nothing to do with my health.  It has more to do with not much to report these days and living life!

Had round 28 this past Thursday.  It was like most days... wait, wait, wait!  It's a good thing that I bring along things to do.  I got there round 8:50am.  Ok, so I was running a few minutes late for blood work.  They got me back there fairly quickly.  Then it was up to the 5th floor for some more waiting.  Things are pretty routine, so once I get back to see the doctor things move pretty quickly.  As I was heading out from the doctor's visit, I was told some of the blood they drew was hemolyzed.  They were pretty quick about getting some more samples.

After the extra blood draw, I took the time to grab a snack and was able to spend some time with my melanoma mole-mate Julie!  After a few hours, I thought for sure my treatment should be ready.  That's what happens when I have those kinds of expectations...  there seemed to have been a little mix up between the blood draw and getting those updated results to the pharmacy.  (don't worry folks - blood work was perfect, but they can't mix until they have confirmation).

So after getting in around 8:45 am, I was finally taken back for treatment around 3pm.  Makes for a long day, but well worth it!  Let the countdown begin to FDA approval!  I know this could help so many people.

The weekend was spent with some great friends visiting!  We don't have to do anything special, just nice to get together and catch up!

Have a great week!  I'll try and update more often!


27 July 2014

Thanks Family for the Love and Support

I don't make it back home to Minnesota that often but in the last month or so I've been back twice.  Usually my family is lucky to see me twice a year!

Last weekend it was for a family reunion.  It's always nice to catch up and enjoy some time back home.  I love living in the NYC area with all the hustle and bustle, but I forget sometimes how much I miss having a backyard, and just taking it easy.  I arrived back Friday night and spent the night with my little brother.  It was nice to grab some dinner and hang out in the backyard with a little fire.

Saturday was spent running around after my niece Gabby and hanging out at Uncle Earl's Petshop with my mom and brother.

Sunday we had a family reunion at my aunt Geri's.  It was great to catch up with family!  And to my surprise, my mom had Team Erin hats made for everyone!  Thanks again everyone for the love and support!

Team Erin Hats - Thanks Mom!
My mom and her cousins
What a camera crew!
My lovely niece wearing her hat!

26 July 2014

Breaking Records - Most People Applying Sunscreen at One Time

Many of you probably remember a post a few months back about attending a Melanoma Walk (Ann's Hope) in Milwaukee.  One of the things they were trying to accomplish was to set a World Record : Most People Applying Sunscreen at 1 time.  Way to go Milwaukee! the record was set.  Too bad it couldn't list all of our names hehe!

Remember to apply your sunscreen!  I recently saw this info graphic from Walgreens recently on sunscreen.  Have a great weekend!


04 July 2014

Family Time

It seems that the only time we get the whole family together is for weddings and funerals.  Sadly, this last weekend was for a funeral.

My Grandpa Youngerberg passed away last week.  I was trying to make it home to see him but just didn't get there in time.  It was the first time in a long time we've gotten all 13 cousins together.  It was nice to catch up even though it was a sad occasion.  It's so fun to see how much everyone has grown up!  And to have the 2 little ones running around.

A little fuzzy - but the Youngerberg cousin crew (and 2 great grand children)

It was nice to spend some time at Kamp Dels in Waterville, MN with everyone.  We were talking about how when Em and I were little we learned how to cast a reel from the camp site.  It's hard to tell from the picture below, but the camper is set up from the road.  Gramps would help Em and I with our Snoopy and Woodstock fishing poles.  We'd spend hours practicing.  I don't remember ever catching any fish! lol! 

I suppose it was fitting after a funeral to have a huge storm roll thru.  It was a nice reminder to enjoy the simple things in life as I watched my niece Gabby totally excited about the rain!

Gabby didn't really know what to think of me.  She doesn't get to see me that often (last time was at Christmas).  She didn't want to come near me until I broke out the iPad!  haha!  Technology wins every time?

Hope everyone has a safe a happy and safe 4th of July!

15 June 2014

ASCO Updates and Immunotherapies

I haven't had much time to share some of the info coming out of the ASCO meetings a few weeks ago.  The main headlines continue to be around the immunotherapy treatments and the success that patients are having with them.  A recent article in the NY Times shares some findings.  You can see below that the 2 drugs combined are showing nearly 88 percent survival rate after 2 years (if you look at melanoma survival stats prior to these drugs, it was round 20 percent survival.  Pretty amazing.

Many of you know I took Bristol-Myers Yervoy followed by Merck's Anti-PD1  and have had great success so far.  Pretty amazing stuff with minimal side effects.

"The power of a combination was shown in advanced melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. In one clinical trial, 79 percent of patients receiving two immunotherapy drugs from Bristol-Myers were alive after two years. Of those who received the optimal dose, the two-year survival rate was 88 percent. The study involved only 53 patients, however, and might not represent what would happen on a larger scale.

Dr. Wolchok, who was involved in the study, said that only several years ago, the two-year survival rate for metastatic melanoma may have been less than 10 percent. One of the immune drugs, Yervoy, which was approved for use against melanoma in 2011, allows for a two-year survival rate of about 25 percent when used alone, he said. The other drug, nivolumab, which is still experimental, had a two-year survival rate above 40 percent when used alone in a study."