Medical plans for 2015 are in place.
The last week of January I will become the only person you know (admit it) that is getting cooked in an effort to stunt her disease. I will get cooked six times as part of this Phase One clinical trial – every 28 days. The cooking, technically known as heating, happens in an operating room with me under general anesthesia for the four plus hours. During the procedure my blood is continuously removed and returned (much like dialysis) as it is heated to the magical 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. The first hour gets the blood to the required temperature, the last hour cools the blood back down to normal. In the main part of the procedure the blood functions like a radiator to heat my entire body to the 107.6.
There is nothing very new about the idea of heating the cancer to kill it off. It’s been an international effort with Germany and Japan also spending significant time on the concept. The challenge has stayed getting the body hot enough to destroy cancer with out destroying major organs – a tough balance. Clearly, a human cannot survive a two-four hour fever of 107.6.
So how do I intend to survive? Well, my team of doctors believes, and has convinced the FDA, that they have evolved the equipment needed to protect my organs while heating me up. While I will be within the first handful of patients using this equipment, there is a longer history to calm me.
A doctor in Galveston, Texas, Dr Roger Vertrees, designed the initial two generations of equipment first using it on 40 AIDS patients in the nineties and then 10 very advanced lung cancer patients in 2004. Both were well-documented, credible trials. Dr Lilja, my new doctor in San Jose tracked this work, travelled down to watch and when the Galveston Hurricane
wiped out their lab suggested they relocate to San Jose where the third and current generation of the equipment is setting sail. Now Dr. Vertrees travels to San Jose for every surgery and is the “founding father” of the working team in 2015.
I enjoyed meeting the San Jose HEATT team. They are run out of a small, no frills private practice under the lead of Dr Lilja, a long time (but still quite young) gyn/oncologist. The hospital they work with, Good Sam, is nearby and also pretty plain and well regarded. Dr Lilja seems to be a bit of a visionary much like Drs Bruckner and Hirshfeld – willing to live a more simple life in the pursuit of cancer breakthroughs.
Dr. Lilja has long explored heated chemo (known as HIPEC) for his patients. HIPEC is hard to tolerate, not relevant for heavily metastatic people like me and serves as no magic wand motivating his look beyond towards HEATT.
I like the dedication, teamwork and vision, which is good because I am putting my life and hopes for a future in their hands.