Did you know that your gut bacteria might predict whether or not you will respond to immunotherapy? Three different studies have found that responders and non-responders can be predicted based on the composition of their intestinal microbiota.1
What do the studies show?
One of the studies, conducted by Laurence Zitvogel at the Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, Paris, looked specifically at immunotherapy response by those with non-small cell lung cancer and renal cell carcinoma. The study found that patients with more bacteria from the species Akkermansia muciniphila had the best response to anti-PD-1 therapy.
Hydration is important for good health and we need to be able to recognize and treat dehydration before it becomes severe. We, as cancer patients, are particularly vulnerable to dehydration, both from the disease and the treatments we receive. It is important for us to pay close attention to whether or not we are staying properly hydrated, even when we don’t feel like drinking water.
According to the Natural Conference of State Legislatures, prescription drug transactions in the United States make up ten percent of total healthcare spending.1 Because of this, states are beginning to enact legislation related to the pricing, payment, and costs associated with prescription drugs. In most cases, states are anxious to shift the cost burden away from patients.
In the meantime, there are ways that we can help mitigate our drug costs by becoming informed consumers. There are a variety of resources available that might help us reduce our copays or the cost of the drug itself.
I recently attended a presentation on managing cancer costs. It was chockful of helpful hints. I share some of what I learned here.
1. Keeping track of costs
While the Explanation of Benefit (EOB) form you receive from the insurance company can be very confusing, it is an important document. Be sure to monitor it closely because, while it is not a bill, it details the services for which you will be billed.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I was faced with some hard decisions. After four years of complete stability, one tumor in my supraclavicular lymph node had decided to go rogue and quit responding to the immunotherapy I was on. I named it “Wayward Tumor.”
From one clinical trial to another
When my oncologist told me that I was being taken off of the clinical trial because of tumor growth, I wasn’t particularly worried. That’s just how much confidence I had in him having something else for me to try.
I have always been a person of deep faith. I don’t go to church like I should, to say the least, but my faith is very strong. When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I guess the idea that I would likely be meeting my Maker sooner rather than later caused my faith to become even deeper. Whatever the cause, my faith runs deep and it is very important to me. Studies find that many people find that their faith strengthens in the face of a cancer diagnosis.1 But, certainly, not everyone with cancer shares the same belief system.
It was six years ago, but I well remember my first chemo treatment … and the days leading up to it. It was terrifying. We hear so many horror stories about chemo. It is no wonder we all face it with dread (understatement of the year).
Watching my dad’s treatment
I watched my dad go through chemo and radiation back in the 1970s for the same illness as I have – nonsmall cell lung cancer, adenocarcinoma. He handled radiation with no problem, but chemo was a different story altogether. He was so sick from it. I remember how pale he got and how weak. He was definitely not the poster child to encourage anyone to want to do chemo. So, I always said, “If I’m ever diagnosed with cancer, I will do radiation, but I will not do chemo.”
I’ve been trying to think of different topics that might be of interest to others who have some connection to lung cancer. I started thinking about some of the things I didn’t know when I was first diagnosed. There are just so many misconceptions that surround cancer, especially lung cancer. Here are a few of the things I learned soon after I was diagnosed:
1. Nonsmokers get lung cancer too
I guess I really never thought much about it one way or the other, but if someone had told me I would know more people with lung cancer who have never smoked than who do or did, I would have thought they were crazy.
Several days ago, I got a text message telling me that a former colleague and friend had passed away unexpectedly. I had seen her recently and she was her usual happy self. We made plans to get together for lunch soon. I guess none of us realized that her days here on earth were coming to a close. …More
Okay, this post is probably going to have a lot of people looking at me and thinking I have gone stark-raving crazy. But, here goes anyway!
What would life without cancer be like?
I participate in a forum whose participants have all kinds of different cancers. Today, a post was made that asked, “Do you get wrapped up in thinking about what might have been if cancer hadn’t come?” The person who asked the question is livid that she has cancer.