Thursday, June 14, 2007

Goodbye, David

When the news reached me two months ago that David L died I didn’t have to ask why, but I did turn to the Internet for information about how. His wife wrote:
His last hour was private - just David and I- which gave me some special memories. I have to believe that the good outweighs the bad during the last 6 years of David's life…The month of May would have marked four years of being under (Dr Herbert Hurwitz’s) care at Duke (University Medical Center). Dr Hurwitz has given David and I three and a half extra years to be together, as his original prognosis at the time of (colorectal) cancer recurrence was only six months to live.

David was fearless about enrolling in clinical trials. At least, he acted like he was:
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. The drugs I am receiving on this study are AMG 706, Panitumumab, Irinotecan, Leucovorin and 5-FU.::::YIPPEE !!! It appears that the drugs on this new trial are already shrinking the tumors after just the first chemotherapy treatment last week. WOW ! …we are on the way to health we hope, and thanks for your support in whatever way you offer it.

One of the first trials he joined was very mature: in the fall of 2003 David entered a trial of Avastin and when the FDA approved its use for his type of cancer a few months later, he was proud of his contribution to that milestone. (Full disclosure: I worked for the drug's developer during 2006.)Later, the drugs he tried did not even have names yet.

I had sporadic communication with David last year but I was always impressed by his fierce dedication to fighting cancer. He generally brushed off the numerous side effects of his meds while he and his wife put their passion into action advocating for cancer research.

The road to FDA approval for any cancer drug includes plenty of detours but no progress is possible without the participation of already-stricken women and men. Thank you, David and thank you, cancer trial participants. You give me hope.

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