The bone marrow transplant had failed. No one had actually said that. It was hinted that even though Jim’s tumors were reappearing, the BMT could be working. In any case, chemotherapy was started, first CVP, then CVP-R. This drug combination worked extremely well and Jim continued his normal, everyday life; racquetball, basketball, work every day. On the days of his scheduled outpatient treatment, he went directly from Mass General to his job in Boston. He suffered very few side effects. No one even knew he had cancer. He was determined to beat it.
At some point, the CVP combo started to work less well. His tumors weren’t fully going away between treatments. As they were subcutaneous, they were visible. Depressing. Luckily, at this time a number of new targeted therapies became available in clinical trials. One at a time, he was able to qualify for many of them:
I think there were more, but it’s been a few years now and I don’t remember them all. This cancer was smart. The therapies all failed. How about a second BMT, they asked? UGH. But OK, it was really the only choice. We were told that the chances of success were real, but small.
This would be a “mini transplant”, meaning that the pre-transplant chemo would be less harsh and less harmful to Jim’s body. This procedure didn’t work either. BUT during these years of treatment, our other two children had gotten married and given us 4 grandchildren. Jim was even more positive that he was going to beat the cancer. These kids were his reason to live.