Help Taylor Fight Gastric Cancer
We were told that removing it/surgery was not an option at that point. We were also told that it was very rare in someone his age. Despite all of this devastating news, Taylor was so incredibly strong and kept his wicked sense of humour. He started chemotherapy (cisplatin/epirubicin /capecitabine) on November 2nd a few weeks later--and even sent me some "chemo selfies."
After three cycles of chemotherapy, his tumor shrunk by 30% and his tumor markers went from 16,000 down to 2000. After three more cycles, his tumors had shrunk again by 30%. At this point his tumor markers went from 2000 to 12. Normal tumor markers for someone without cancer are about 5. We were ecstatic about this especially since his pain was better and he could eat again properly. It felt amazing to get some good news. It felt amazing to have my witty, upbeat brother back. Taylor's hair started growing back and he put on some weight. The doctors decided to keep doing chemo. Unfortunatly, after the next three chemo cycles, the tumors had stabilized. One more round of chemo later, one of the tumours has started to grow again. Finally, tumor markers in his blood increased again.
We found out on the night of my recent wedding rehearsal dinner that chemotherapy was no longer working for Taylor and that he would need to switch to a different type of treatment. Despite this news, Taylor stood up with me in our wedding party on our big day.
His oncologist believes his best treatment option would be to switch to immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy. Taylor has poor marrow tolerance to chemotherapy (which results in a compromised immune system and delays in treatment and reduction of dose strength.) Also, Taylor went through gene testing on his tumors (POG study) which showed immunotherapy may be very beneficial.
Here's the science behind it as I understand it: Immunotherapy differs from chemotherapy in that where chemo kills all cells indiscriminately (hence losing you hair etc), immunotherapy boosts your bodies immune response, and targets the cancerous cells with the help of your natural immune system.
Immunotherapy (specifically the drug PEMBROLIZUMAB) has had amazing success with melanoma (skin cancer...even in stage 4) and is approved for its use in Canada. But it's still in phase three trials for gastric cancers. Basically, this means it's not covered for cancer patients. Taylor can only get the treatment through a "compassionate basis" through the company who makes the drug, or through the government. He recently applied for both, but was denied despite his young age. The next option was to see if his extended healthcare would cover part of the cost (he is still waiting on a response). Finally his last option is to pay for the drug himself, the cost would be approximately $100,000 a year!! This drug therapy is roughly $8000 every 3 weeks and not covered for a 27 year old...despite the fact it could potentially dramatically help him.
In addition to these options, he has also made contact with the local MLA and MP who have said they would try to see what they could do for him from a political position. But so far we are still waiting. This time right now is crucial as we need to get him started on the next treatment.
The bottom line is Taylor has shown everyone what true strength is. I can't really express how amazingly strong he has been through all of this. Through chemo and pain and feeling sick he has essentially continued to work full time. He has kept his sense of humour and put on a brave face for everyone in his life. It's difficult to put yourself out there and ask for help, especially on social media but if he is not able to qualify for/afford immunotherapy he will be forced to go on a more extreme version of chemo which will happen weekly instead of monthly. This will severely limit his quality of life and stop him from being able to work and act like a normal 27 year old.
I am asking on behalf of my little brother, for help raising money for his immunotherapy. $100,000 seems like such a crazy amount, but it would fund his treatments for a year. Please pass this on to your friends, families and loved ones that may be interested in helping one of the strongest and best people I know, fight this horrible disease. My family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to read this and for helping my brother fight this.
It's been a while since our last update but we wanted to let you know how Taylor's been doing and what's happening next for our family. After an amazing fundraiser put on by Taylor's best friends called #WeHARTtaylor and the tremendous outpouring of support and love from everyone in our community we raised close to $20,000 dollars that night alone!!
For the past few weeks, Taylor has been on heavy duty weekly chemo and a trial drug that his doctors wanted to try before starting the Immunotherapy. At this point he has been through roughly 21 rounds of chemo, yet he's still going to work, hanging out with his friends and keeping his sense of humour.
Unfortunately, we recently found out that this new chemo is no longer working and that Taylor had developed jaundice. He had to get an operation last Friday to drain a bile duct and has been putting on a brave face despite being in pain and fatigued. At this point his doctor has recommended that he start Immunotherapy. Thanks to all of you--every single person who has donated, shared the link and helped in any way they can--he'll be able to start this potentially life-changing treatment.
We recently found out the actual cost of the treatment is around $130,000. When I started this account I never dreamed we would make it anywhere near $100,000 and now we've almost met that goal! In the hopes that we can continue fundraising for the full year's treatment, I've changed our goal to reflect the actual amount. We will continue to hold fundraisers in the new year to keep this ball rolling--beer and burgers anyone?! :)
Once again, words can't express how much your continued support, love and well wishes mean to us. Because of you, we're finally starting the Immunotherapy, we're hopeful, we're grateful and we're looking towards the future with a lighter heart.
Thanks to your amazingly generous donations we have raised over $43,000 dollars for Taylor's treatments!! We are so close to the halfway mark. We are immensely grateful for the support and the well-wishes being sent our way.
At this time, Taylor doesn't have quite enough for his Oncologist to start the immunotherapy since they are hoping to give him the treatment without any interruptions or delays between each 3 week period. We have no doubt that we can raise this money but in the interim he has started the "heavy duty" chemo on a weekly basis. In typical Taylor form, he had his first intense chemo on Thursday and went to work on Friday! We are hoping the chemo will keep the tumours from growing while he's raising the rest of the money for immunotherapy.
You have all been so supportive, thank you for your donations and for raising awareness for Taylor's fund. If there is anyone you haven't yet sent this out to, please share! We can make this goal and make these treatments happen for Taylor.
On another note, he will kill me, but please enjoy the photo of myself and sumo wrestler baby Taylor.
I am ShaWanda Manuel-Braham, Programs Coordinator at Debbie's Dream Foundation. I’m very sorry to hear of Taylor’s diagnosis. He may be interested in registering for our FREE Patient Resource Education Program. We will send him more information and match him with a mentor. Our mentors are stomach cancer survivors or caregivers who can offer advice, tips, and be a source of support for you. Please follow the link to complete our online Resource Inquiry Form. You may also find it helpful to make full use of the resources we offer on our website. Some of the resources can be found at these links: Resources and Related Links https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/resources-related-links Lecture Library - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/lecture-library Blog - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/blog Stomach Cancer 101 Information - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/stomach-cancer-101 Clinical Trials - https://www.debbiesdream.org/portal/clinical-trials
We are all with you Taylor and are wishing you the best
So sorry to hear about the set back with the operation but OMG he is definitely a fighter...our thoughts and prayers are always with you for a recovery in the future...keep up the brave fight Taylor you are an incredible young man, your sister is as strong as you it seems and with your supportive parents your gonna be alright....thanks for the update, love and best wishes always Roni and Peter xoxo Will pray that the Immunotherapy works quickly...xoxo