Monday, February 6, 2012

A Big Thank You

A week has gone by and saying that Kalydeco has been approved is no longer an overwhelming shock to my system, we’ve absorbed the news and are trying to learn what the next steps will be for our family.

But for all of you that have done research trials in the past that have gotten us to this point, and for all those who are still waiting for their own miracle drug – I just want to emphasize that we have not forgotten any of you. We will never let Gavin feel like he is entitled to this drug. He will forever know the hard work of countless doctors, scientists and CF patients before him. He will know from this early age that nothing like this comes about without hard work and dedication. We are doing what we can to get him into the pediatric study to thank those who have participated in the past, and our way of paying it forward to those who are patiently waiting their turn.

To clarify – we are not sitting back on our heels waiting to get on this drug. Just ask Gavin’s pulmonologist how many emails I’ve been sending her for months – constantly asking if there is any new news on the upcoming study. BUT, we are doing what is ethically and morally right. We are going to work WITH the CFF and WITH Vertex. We are going to provide as much data possible. We are going to make sure Gavin is closely monitored throughout each stage of the study – and not just his physical status, but his mental and spiritual status as well. At the first sign of danger we’d pull him out – but we believe that tossing our kid a pill that has never been studied in a child his AGE (not his size, his age) is irresponsible. Every drug has a different effect on everyone, we’re going to march forward as veraciously as possible while simultaneously being cautious. We want this drug to be available to everyone – and Gavin needs to learn now that research is what gets us there.

So THANK YOU. Thank you to the scientist’s at Vertex – to all of the scientist’s studying CF. Thank you to the CFF and every CF charity. Thank you to all of the doctor’s who spend their lives dedicating themselves to this disease. Thank you to those who have EVER done a research study at any level – it took a piece of all of those to even come up with the concept of this pill. Thank you to every person with CF, or parent of a CFer who whole heartedly told me how happy they were for our family. Thank you for feeling like you could also explain to me how hard it is to know that you or your child don’t qualify for it, and the mixed emotions that are there – it makes me feel pretty darn special to know that you can open up to me like that.

And THANK YOU to every single person who has ever donated even a penny to the CFF, or any CF related charity. I am proud to be a part of a community who believes that your donated money needs to be going to RESEARCH – and Kalydeco is tangible proof that your money is going where it belongs. People often ask me why they don’t see commercials on tv advertising events, or why there isn’t apparel lined up in the stores – because we believe that the money you give us isn’t meant to go there – the money you give is to save lives. You will most likely hear about CF events through word of mouth, or the rare advertisement because we put the money where it belongs. Beyond grateful that Gavin - and Casey and I - are in the midst of such an amazing community.

We are acutely aware how lucky we are with Gavin and his health thus far. Knowing that many have passed away, or have been too sick to benefit from this drug is a thought always in the back of our minds. I too wish this drug was possible many years ago, but at the same time feel very blessed that it’s happening right now. No CF patient is more important than another, but an adult whose disease has severely progressed is in the need to be on this drug immediately. We are lucky to be in a stage where yes, we want him on it as soon as possible, but that waiting a month or so to figure out what path we’ll be headed down does not mean immediate life or death for Gavin as it does for many others. We’re attempting to quickly move forward as ethically and as safely as possible.

Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I woke up with a headache

This morning I woke up with my head throbbing. Spending a day on an emotional high has taken it’s toll and today I am just plain exhausted! Between the crying, the laughing and the wine I had at our celebratory dinner, I could have slept a full 12 hours.

I want to take a second and answer some questions that have been asked of me lately.

First, even when Gavin gets on the medication he will continue his treatment/medication regimen. The pill (aka blue lightening!) does not fix pancreatic insufficiency, so he will continue to take pancreatic enzymes with his food so he can absorb it’s nutrients. Until there is documented proof that the Vest and inhaled medications are not needed, Gavin will continue to do two sessions a day. Honestly, if that were to happen it would be years in the future – if ever. BUT, I have no problem continuing on with them as long as his disease is controlled, whatever it takes to keep him healthy and alive!

Second, yes the fight to get this pill covered by insurance is going to be an uphill battle. But I struggle with everyone’s immediate freak out about it. HAVE FAITH IN THE CFF AND VERTEX! They are on our side and they are already working hard on leading the way in the fight. It has been a mere 24 hours or so since the announcement, decisions and a plan are going to take a bit of time to get into action. So before everyone thinks they need to get “lawyered up” and panicked, let’s take a minute to breathe and see what they are getting set up for us. And for those of you looking at the combo of 770/809 – remember the fight we are going to fight now against insurance companies will only make your battle easier! How many times do we need to be told that EVERYONE who qualifies will get the drug before the panic stops? Where there’s a will there’s a way, and there are too many CF parents out there, and CF patients out there, that know how to fight and to demand a drug for this not to happen. Doesn’t mean it will be an easy path, but it WILL happen.

Third, I have been hearing rumors on what the pediatric study on 770 will entail. Some say there will be a placebo and some say there will not be. Some are also mentioning that it will include a day of being hooked up to an IV and getting blood drawn several times. I will not jump to any conclusions until I see the paperwork describing the exact process but it is BEYOND discouraging to hear parents say, “oh I’m not going to put my child through that…it’s too much…no way, we’ll just fight to get on the drug immediately…” SERIOUSLY? Do you think that this pill just appeared? Do you not realize that THOUSANDS of research studies have happened to get us to this stage? That people have been poked, prodded and studied for decades to HELP YOUR CHILD OUT? That generations of CF patients went through studies knowing full well it wouldn’t help them – but that it would help children in the future? YOUR child is that child of the future. And now, you choose to be selfish? “Why thank you everyone else who went through studies, I’d like to just skip that and take the drug thank you very much.” Explaining to my (almost) three year old why he needs to go through this is NOT going to be fun obviously, but a day or two of testing and a possible placebo for a few weeks before getting the real thing (or possibly getting the pill right away) is NOTHING compared to the work that so many have done ahead of ours. OUR CHILDREN WOULD NOT BE LIVING THE LIVES THEY ARE WITHOUT THE RESEARCH THAT HAS HAPPENED AND IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING. So yes, dealing with a lot emotionally and physically for my three year old will be tough in the moment – but the long term payoff is priceless. And someday he will be able to say that he was a part of this groundbreaking history, that he is a major component in the progress of controlling/curing Cystic Fibrosis. Obviously I would love to run to the pharmacy right now and hand Gavin the pill today – but welcome to reality people, such a breakthrough deserves a little extra work. And any research found with this study will also have a HUGE impact on the studies happening for the 770/809 studies that will help the other NINETY SIX PERCENT of the CF population. So yes, it’s  your decision as a parent to enroll a child or not into a study – but choosing to avoid this study that will help out everyone – not just the 4% dealing with this disease (especially when it has already been proven to have no major side effects) is in my opinion, selfish. There are so many families out there wishing they could partake. Our family will do whatever it takes to get a cure/control for our child but we will NEVER stop fighting, helping, researching, fundraising etc. until this is possible for every single individual faced with this disease. Fighting this disease is a balance between being selfish and selfless, and as the adults we need to teach our children that their hard work has a priceless payoff.

(and I’ll step off my soapbox now…)

And no, Gavin is not guaranteed to be a part of this study – but for his entire life we have lived in the positive (no maybes, no ifs, but WHENs) and I refuse to think any other way when it comes to him participating. We’re definitely glass half full kind of people – life is too short to be pessimistic, especially when we’re fighting for LIFE!

Fourth, like I mentioned before – even with Gavin being one of the few that qualifies for the drug we will never stop in our fight for awareness, funds, and a cure. We will continue to fundraise. We will continue to get our story out there. We will continue on our quest to get anyone willing to listen more educated on the disease and what it entails. Gavin’s other mutation is df508 and the 770/809 combo being studied is just as important to us as 770/Kalydeco. I have too much love for all Gavin’s CF buddies to stop here. And if you ever have a question on anything CF, the drugs – what it means – why he does his treatments etc – please ask me anything, there is no such thing as a dumb question. If I don’t have the answer I will get you the answer we both need.

It’s my blog, it’s my opinion – and if you’d like to go off on your own tangent please use your own blog/facebook status – any negative comments posted will be immediately removed by the author…ME! :)