Thursday, December 30, 2010

Avastin and Bucket List Update: Beers with the Bus........Check!

Hello Everyone:

Jerome Bettis and Jen on the set of The Jerome Bettis Show
I will get to the Jerome Bettis story and bucket list item soon.  First a medical update.

 Some of you may have been paying attention to the news lately and heard that the FDA is revoking “Avastin” from the market. This is one of the drugs that I am taking and is not very good news although I found an article dated December 28, 2010 that the manufacturer, Genentech, is requesting a hearing with the FDA before anything takes effect. The next 5 paragraphs are completely plagiarized. I cut and paste a couple of articles together instead of reinventing the wheel.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did something highly unusual on Dec. 16: It revoked its previously granted approval for using a drug called Avastin to treat late-stage metastatic breast cancer. Avastin reduces blood flow to tumors. This allows it to halt the spread of breast cancer in some patients. In one clinical trial, 52 percent of Avastin users saw their tumors stop growing or spreading to other parts of their bodies. In most other breast cancer patients, Avastin acts as a pause button, sparing women from deteriorating further – at least temporarily. On average, Avastin can extend patients' lives by four to five months. However, some "super-responders" react especially well and enjoy unexpected years of additional life. (This is my plan)

The FDA has started the process of removing the breast cancer indication for bevacizumab (Avastin, by Genentech), saying the drug is too toxic and confers no survival benefit for women with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The drug has been shown to improve progression-free survival (PFS).

The FDA’s decision was based on four clinical trials: E2100, AVADO, and RIBBON-1, which studied bevacizumab in the first-line treatment of MBC, and AVF 2119g, which studied it as second-line treatment in this setting. “Today’s announcement is the first step in a process and will not have immediate impact on use of Avastin to treat breast cancer or the drug’s availability,” Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press briefing. “For patients, this means no disruption in treatment. Their access to Avastin will not be affected.” She added that oncologists currently treating patients with bevacizumab should use their judgment in deciding whether to continue with the drug or explore other treatment options.

Dr. Woodcock emphasized that the FDA’s decision did not take into account the cost of bevacizumab, which is estimated at about $100,000 per year per patient. “Reimbursement is a decision that is made by insurance providers which often use different criteria from those used by the FDA when we determine that a drug is safe and effective for marketing,” she said. “At this time, the CMS [Centers Medicare & Medicaid Services] will not be making any changes to its reimbursement policy for Avastin and is waiting until the resolution of this process before deciding whether to make any changes.”

Meanwhile, as the FDA was announcing its decision, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) declared that bevacizumab in combination with paclitaxel remained a valuable treatment option for women with MBC, claiming that the benefits of the combination outweighed the risks. (I’m not taking paclitaxel at this time)

What does this mean for me? Well everything is still up in the air as you can see. Dr. Bowers is keeping a close watch on the situation and will make whatever recommendation is necessary at that time. As of now, I received a dose of Avastin on December 20th  and will continue to do so until I hear differently. J

Onto good news now. The bucket list is coming along very nicely. I’ve crossed off 3 items in the last 2 months and they were a blast!

Bucket List #16 Turkey Bingo!
Nancie and Jen with winning cards.
Yup, you heard me right. On November 19th we met our friends Nancie and Terry and what seemed like the entire City of Carver for Turkey Bingo at City Hall for a fundraiser for the Carver Blackhawks. Her family and friends are WONDERFUL and they welcomed JR and me with open arms. We had a blast! We started the evening with cocktails, shocker, down the street and headed up to City Hall shortly thereafter. The place was packed and the games were fast and furious. 41 games in total, lots of turkeys to win. Little did I know that mixed into this Turkey Bingo was a meat raffle. Don’t panic everyone, I’m not crossing meat raffle off the list because this was technically “turkey bingo” and NOT technically a meat raffle.

In between games there were lots of prizes to win too. If my memory serves me correctly, Nancie’s gang and JR and I walked out of there with a City of Carver baseball hat, City of Carver sweat shirt, 3 gift certificates for bars down the street, around $60 in cash, a pack of steaks, a ham and 5 turkeys. We rocked at Bingo; I don’t want to talk about it. After Turkey Bingo we did a little more bar hopping with Nancie and Terry. What a fun night! Thank you Nancie, Terry and the City of Carver!

Bucket List #31 – Learn to make gravy
I had LOTS of offers to learn how to make gravy, where have you people been? Kari Mitchell helped set this one up for me. I took up the offer from the folks at Open Arms of Minnesota. They are one of the recipients from The Breast Cancer Ride that The Tittsburgh Wheelers participated in this summer. For those of you who don’t know who they are, they provide nutritious meals to cancer patients and their families during treatment. They are really a top notch organization.
Gravy Lessons at Open Arms of Minnesota

On November 24th I went over to their new building to learn how to make gravy. I was met by their executive chef Nick Collins who got me prepped with an apron and hairnet, no one looks good in these by the way, and after a thorough hand washing I went to the biggest kitchen I’ve ever been in. It was there that I met Austin, who is the greatest gravy making instructor in the world. I learned so much that day! It was better than watching Food Network and I had a great time getting to know Austin and learning how to make gravy. I’m the gravy master. Bonus, I brought some home for our Thanksgiving dinner the next day. It was delicious. Thank you Nick, Austin and Open Arms of Minnesota!

Beers with the Bus!

The Bus and Jen in the Owners Suite of Jerome Bettis Grill 36

Last but definitely not least, Bucket List #37 should be Bucket List #36, and I call myself a Steeler fan. Have a beer with Jerome Bettis. I swear you cannot make this one up. As it turns out several of you reached out to Jerome Bettis for this one, thank you very much. But, his people responded to our friend Jeff Wille in Colorado. That must have been some letter you wrote Jeff, I cannot thank you enough for setting this one up.

As it turns out Jerome Bettis is in Pittsburgh every weekend of a home game to tape “The Jerome Bettis Show” at one of the local TV stations, WPXI, and after the show he visits his bar, “The Jerome Bettis Grille 36”. So we flew out to Pittsburgh the weekend of December 10th to meet the Bus. How cool is that?

Jen on the set of The Jerome Bettis Show
JR and I first were invited to the station to watch a taping of the show. We showed up at 2:00 pm at the station where we were taken on a tour by some of the local talent and station manager. There were a couple other groups there to watch the show too. There was a group of kids from a local college and a group of police officers who were there to get a signature on a “corn toss” game board to raise money for one of the daughter’s of a fellow officer, she’s 19 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Heart breaking.

When we went into the studio we were told to sit in specific seats to get the best view of the show and I was one of the first brought up to get my picture taken with Jerome. He’s HUGE! After Jerome had his picture taken with the remaining audience members we were taken to the green room to hang with him for about 30 minutes while he changed into street clothes and signed a bunch of things. The rest of the audience went to a conference room to wait for him. We’re so cool.

Gifts from The Bus and the staff of Jerome Bettis Grill 36
 After the station we went to his restaurant next to Heinz Field. When we got there we asked for the manager Mike and he escorted us to the owner’s suite, a.k.a. man land. This room was very cool, leather couches, tv’s, personal wait staff and a view out into the bar. Mike had some things there for me, a signed Terrible Towel, a scarf, t-shirt and a glass. JR and I were there about 30 minutes with Mike before Jerome and his friend Cliff Stroud joined us. Cliff is a former teammate from Notre Dame who now lives in Pittsburgh.

Beers with the Bus........Check!
We ordered some drinks and food and chatted about everything but football. We spent about 2 ½ hours with Jerome and Cliff and had a great time. The coolest thing about meeting Jerome Bettis was he’s even nicer than I imagined. I know that meeting your hero’s can sometimes be a huge disappointment, in Jerome’s case it was the exact opposite. That he would say yes to having a beer with someone he didn’t know because they had it on their bucket list is still unbelievable to me. And every time I think about our visit, it makes me smile. What a great day. Thank you Jerome!

To everyone who has helped me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to crossing off a whole lot more with you all in 2011! I hope this note finds you all well and that you had a blessed Holiday Season and a safe and Happy New Year!

Love to you all,


1 comment:

KJ said...

Thanks for the update, Jen. BTW, here is the link to our latest Ride video, starring you! :)

Love you girl! KJ