I married my high school sweetheart after we graduated from college in 2011. Two years later, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
After 6 months of treatment at UC San Francisco, we are running out of FDA-approved options. There is, however, a promising line of research involving a new treatment which enables the body to attack the cancer by inhibiting a cloaking mechanism that tumors use to disguise themselves from the immune system. There's a race right now in the pharmaceutical world to develop these immunotherapies, called anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 immunotherapies, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Genentech are each quickly developing their own immunotherapy drugs.*
These immunotherapies have demonstrated immense potential in previous trials on kidney cancer patients and could be FDA-approved 2015; however, Mikaela is ineligible for the current trials due to a variety of reasons. Sadly, we just don't have time to wait for these drugs to become FDA-approved.
After absorbing the blow of yet another clinical trial rejection, we consulted with oncologists at Stanford University Medical Center and were informed of the FDA's compassionate use option. We are still eagerly pursuing clinical trials, but at this point we've decided it's best to start mounting a compassionate use campaign as well.
We have identified an oncologist willing to oversee the compassionate use of one of these drugs once use has been granted. Now all we need to do is get Merck, Genentech, or Bristol-Myers Squibb to agree to provide this potentially life-saving medication!
We fully understand the risks with experimental medicine, but we have nothing to lose and much to gain. Your signature and those of your network will help us publicize our story and hopefully one of these companies will bite at the chance to be involved in the #WeGotThis community. I personally can't thank you enough for taking the time to engage with our cause.
Please share widely right now! If you have any media contacts who could help us get this link in front of more people, please put us in touch. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay in the loop!
Most importantly, please email me -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- if you have any connections to decision-makers at Merck, Genentech, or Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Keith & Mikaela (get to know Mikaela a little better here)
*If you'd like to learn more about anti-PD-1 immunotherapies, here's a great New York Times article. For the sci-curious, here's an explanation from Bristol-Myers Squibb.