Welcome to the CaringBridge website for Paul Mande’. On this website we will update our family and friends about Paul’s progress. We truly appreciate all your love, caring, and support through this troubling time.
March 8th, 2018 was the day Paul was told that the pain he had been feeling on and off in his abdomen for 4 weeks was diagnosed with the aid of several scans and tests as advanced localized Pancreatic Cancer. His first group of doctors were with the Northside/Wellstar cancer groups and it was suggested he get a second opinion.
They referred him to the Emory Winship Cancer Institute, the premier cancer center in Atlanta and the Southeast US, and recognized as a regional member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the group of hospitals organized to deliver cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients in communities across the country. Paul decided to pursue his treatment at Emory for several reasons. One is they are advanced in the field of new treatments for all cancers, especially ones like Pancreatic Cancer which are known to be resistant to more common methods.
Another is that our daughter Sheryl Bluestein is a prominent member of the Emory Healthcare Leadership Management team and well-connected with the Emory Winship cancer research and treatment facilities. As a result of Sheryl’s connections, Paul is already being treated by the best Pancreatic Oncologist team in the area.
Another advantage at Emory is they have a genetic research department, and through that group it has now been determined that although Paul has the bad fortune of contracting a somewhat rare and difficult type of cancer, he has the good fortune of being in the 1% of cancer victims who have a particular genetic marker or chromosome variation that in many cases allows a relatively new type of treatment to be effective, much more than in the general population.
For years the treatment options for cancer have consisted of surgery, radiation, and Chemotherapy. In Paul’s case he was not a candidate for surgery or radiation, so the only option left would have been traditional Chemotherapy, which has been used for years to fight cancer and consists of infusing the body with a combination of drugs whose purpose is to track down and kill cancer cells, while hopefully not affecting as many of the body’s normal cells. While this method has had many successes, the side effects are usually difficult and the results of this treatment for Pancreatic Cancer have been marginal. However the newer treatment methods being developed show strong signs of improved results and the process is different than traditional chemotherapy. This method is called Immunotherapy and instead of infusing the body with chemicals to kill cells, it adds agents that boost the body’s own normal disease fighting process so that the body attacks and kills the cancer cells using its own natural defenses. The early results of these new methods are promising and the side effects are much less harmful to the body. This is the process that Paul will be starting now. We are very hopeful that this process will have good results and shrink or even totally remove the cancerous cells.
The Immunotherapy drug that will be used for Paul has the trade name Keytruda, official name pembrolizumab, and is regarded as a real breakthrough in fighting cancer. It is the drug that Jimmy Carter credits with eliminating his brain tumor a few years ago while he was a patient at Emory Winship, so Paul will be in good company.