December not only ends another year but it will finish a decade.
2020 is days away.
What has made history since 2010?
A lot. The world is a big place and I will leave out many events. My perspective is primarily through the lens of someone living in the United States. There have been cataclysmic forces of nature that ended lives. Gun violence has become common and largely ignored. I’ve included advancements in technology that have changed our lives for better or worse. Many events happened that aren’t mentioned here. The following is a mere sampling.
The decade got off to a horrific start. Haiti was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010. It left more than 316,000 dead or missing, over 300,000 injured, and over 1.3 million homeless.
The first iPad came out in April of 2010.
On April 29, 2011, over 22 million viewers watched Prince William marry Kate Middleton.
Many viral challenges came and went in the past decade. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million for ALS awareness and research during the summer of 2014.
The world argued over whether a dress was black and blue or white and gold in 2015.
Apple also released racially diverse emojis in 2015.
The Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal on June 26, 2015.
The largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history took place on January 20, 2017, to support gender equality, civil rights, and other issues that affect women. It was called the Women’s March and drew over 5 million people in over 600 marches across the world. Reportedly, around 500,000 people were in attendance at the Washington March.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. The Category 5 hurricane caused a major humanitarian crisis to Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents.
A total solar eclipse was visible across the U.S. in August of 2017. Another one won’t be visible until 2024.
The most diverse class of lawmakers in history was sworn into Congress in January of 2019.
Astronomers captured the first image of a black hole on April 10, 2019.
Donald J. Trump became the 3rd U.S. president to be impeached on December 18, 2019.
What has the last decade been like for me personally?
I sold my condo and moved into a beautiful home in 2010.
I planned to become an adoptive parent. Cancer had other plans.
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the spring of 2012.
My mother died from MBC in April of 2013.
I taught for the first six years of the decade which I found blissful, purposeful, and frustrating. I went on medical leave from my job in the fall of 2016 and officially retired from a teaching career in June of 2018.
I started this blog on August 25, 2018.
Cancer sucks and it has consumed far too much of the decade and taken far too much of me. But I’m still here.
It’s easy to say fuck cancer and that the last decade sucked. I do say it. Things often undeniably suck in a very fuckful fuckable fuckety way.
A Triple F if you will.
It’s harder to embrace all the goodness and joy that abounds when you are living with a deadly disease. Amazingly, I have felt profound joy and happiness when I have been filled with feelings of love and something divine out in nature. I have basked in the warmth of time spent with dear friends. I have been inspired by encouragement and support from my family, friends, and strangers. I have been filled with prolonged moments of peace.
This decade has been harder for me than I ever could have known. I will move forward into 2020 with the intention to continue living in love, hope, and light.
What advances have there been for treating cancer over the last ten years?
I became overwhelmed trying to sort through information. Many drugs that have been approved for one kind of cancer have also been effective in treating a different kind. There are different approval dates based on different indications. Some drugs work well in conjunction with one another but didn’t start out that way. Some drugs have different FDA approval dates based on changes in dosing. Fulvestrant is one of these – it’s been around a long time but receiving a high dose (fulvestrant HD) when first receiving this drug makes an old drug better. This change has been approved within the past couple of years. New combinations are being tested in trials every day. I can’t do justice to all the approved breast cancer drugs in one post. I encourage those interested in learning more to visit the National Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration to conduct your own searches.
As I nosed around on FDA.gov, it looked like there have been over 20 approved drugs for treating cancers in 2019 alone. I don’t know how many of these are applicable to specific breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer settings. It was part of my feeling overwhelmed.
Back to the last decade and the development of drugs to treat breast cancer.
I begin with these caveats:
- Information provided is true to the best of my knowledge.
- The first known FDA approval date is given unless otherwise noted.
- Drug names are listed first followed by brand names.
- Keep in mind, this is not a complete list.
Just for fun, here are a few drugs from the 90s that are still widely used today:
- anastrolzole/Arimidex 1995
- letrozole/Femara 1997
- trastuzumab/Herceptin 1998
- capecitabine/Xeloda 1998
- exemestane/Aromasin 1999
- fulvestrant/Faslodex 2002
- lapatinib/Tykerb 2007
- everolimus/Afinitor 2009 (2012 for MBC)
And finally, here is a snapshot of what the last decade has seen in FDA approved drugs for treating breast cancer:
- eribulin/Halaven November 2010
- capecitabine/Xeloda September 2013
- gemcitabine/Gemzar (2004) with carboplatin 2015
- palbociclib/IBRANCE 2015
- neratinib July 2017
- abemaciclib/Verzenio September 2017
- trastuzumab and pertuzumab December 2017
- alpelisib/PIQRAY May 24, 2019
- trastuzumab deruxtecan / Enhertu is the newest drug available to treat metastatic breast cancer with FDA approval as of December 20, 2019. Read about this latest advancement here.
Tucatinib also is showing a lot of promise for those with metastatic breast cancer. From what I’ve read or heard, this is still in trial status. If my science friend Pauline is reading this and would like to drop some science on us, please comment below and share in language we understand and can take to our oncologists.
I started my cancer life on a regimen of doxorubicin /Adriamycin (approved in 1974) Cytoxan (approved in 1959) followed by paclitaxel /Taxol (approved in 1994).
No new drugs were approved between 1974 and 1994. How is that true?
As I look at the lists of drugs above it seems abundantly clear I would not still be here without the advancements of the last decade. So many targeted therapies have emerged and many more are in the future. Research is responsible for these advancements. I have been on many of the drugs listed above. I need more options that will specifically target mutated cancer cells in my body. I believe in research happening at UW Carbone.
My medical background is that of a patient. Gone are the days when I say I don’t have a medical background because I have had quite an education. I don’t have a degree, but I have a background. Unfortunately, the past decade has schooled me through first-hand experience. I bring that knowledge to the table and to each office visit. I plan to keep bringing it.
And I will find a way to bring it wherever I find myself in 2020.
Happy New Year.