SO… Here’s the deal, in plain language.
I will be getting infused with two different drugs. One is called ipilimumab and the other is called nivolumab. The ‘ipi’, as my doc affectionately refers to it as, has been around for a while. What it does is basically activates all of the T cells in your body… rallies the troops, if you will. The nivo-schmeh-meh, as my brain pronounces that word is a PD-1 inhibitor. PD1s basically sit on tumors and tell the T cells not to attack, so basically the nivo takes out the cancer cells’ main defender.
The ipi has been used as a first line therapy with pretty good results. The nivolumab was just FDA approved last month. It is not available as a first line treatment to the public as of yet. Because both drugs are FDA approved, it’s technically not a clinical trial… nobody is getting placebo. It’s just that the FDA has yet to approve the combination of the drugs, which, based on the incredible results the combo has had in trials thus far, is likely to happen in the very near future.
For the first four months, my infusions will be every three weeks, and I will be getting both drugs. Then, I’ll only be getting Nivolumab infusions, which will happen every two weeks for just about a year. The possible side effects are many and varied (and listed on the wiki pages in the links to the drugs above). Most are rare, some are common, many are completely reversible a few are severe but manageable. Bottom line is, the fact that the nurse tossed out the phrase, ‘a couple of years down the road’ in a casual way made me believe that SHE believes this can work.
Feel free to comment on this post with any questions I failed to answer.