Thanks for coming here in Briggs's memory. I lost Briggs after a year of trying to get access to an immunotherapy for her. Just four days after I heard we finally had a chance, I lost her to complications brought on in what was meant to be a short hospital stay.
It should never have been that close, and shouldn't be for anyone else. And no-one should ever have to go through all Briggs did during that time. Cancer disguises itself from the immune system. Immunotherapy either alerts the immune system to its presence or does such things as block the disguise. The immunotherapeutic vaccine I'd been pursuing for Briggs had brought complete remissions in stage IV colorectal cancer. Immunotherapy's a potential cure in all other solid-tumor cancers including breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, renal, esophageal, oral, cervical, prostate, and skin. It's also worked with acute leukemia. In 2012, all other treatment had failed with a 6-year-old girl at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her condition was considered terminal, but a test after three weeks showed no cancer. 60 Minutes later ran a story on it. Together, we can begin making her cure no longer the exception but the rule.
Along with eminent doctors and sports legends, all mentioned below, the concerned stars of film and media who've generously added their names include (in alphabetical order): Emily Blunt, Ken Burns, Bradley Cooper, Penelope Cruz, Katherine Heigl, Henry Jaglom, Scarlett Johansson, Michelle King Robson, Rob Lowe, Josh Lucas, Elle Macpherson, Debra Messing, Ryan O'Neal, Denise Richards, Mickey Rourke, Steve Tyrell, Meredith Vieira, and Naomi Watts. Please join us in calling for the cancer industry, cancer organizations, and governments to reorient the primary direction of research, treatment, and funding to all safe, potentially curative immunotherapies in every cancer, as well as notably to immunotherapeutic vaccines. And in conjunction with that, to make information on immunotherapy routinely and widely available to patients and caregivers.
Briggs caught me by surprise one day when she said to her doctor, "I can't die, because if I do, Paul will never forgive himself for not having done enough to save me, and I can't do that to him." That was Briggs. Thinking of me when she was facing losing decades of life. One condolence I got called her a gift to humanity. When we'd first met, it was over the phone. Briggs was designing the costumes for a play a friend of mine was directing. Hearing her voice, I actually looked at the receiver as I was listening. I thought it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Within weeks of meeting in person, we were inseparable. And, love's guarantor, we liked each other to the core; and when one of us was in distress, the other felt it to the core.
Briggs and I had been winning her fight in other ways. Her oncologist had said, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. It's working." But with cancer hidden from the immune system, that's where that particular immunotherapeutic vaccine could have made the difference. I'd set up a petition on a UK site when I was trying to get access to it. It had been developed in Britain. Actors Susan Sarandon, Alan Rickman, and Jimmy Smits had generously signed. After losing Briggs, I changed that petition, and this is meant to be a more visible version of it, to begin ending the death, harm, and loss from cancer, cancer treatments, and related medical care within years instead of decades. Since 2003, immunotherapy's also been used to treat grade IV brain cancer at UCLA, within the same overall type that Senator Ted Kennedy had, including patients remaining disease-free at over ten years. Briggs wanted to get immunotherapy on the fast track for everyone. I hope you’ll help me make it as familiar a word as "cancer."
Notable signatories from the medical world include Professor James P. Allison, Chair of Immunology at MD Anderson and leader of Stand Up to Cancer's dream team in immunology, fellow leader Professor Antoni Ribas at UCLA, and co-leader Professor Cassian Yee. And in Australia, Professor Dale Godfrey, Dr. Phil Darcy, and Professor Fabienne Mackay, Chair of Immunology at Monash University.
Immunotherapeutic vaccines in particular usually have none of the serious side effects, nor secondary cancers, of chemotherapy, its adjuvant drugs, and radiation; and there's evidence they prevent recurrence because of immune-system memory. Immunotherapy's long history stretches back to New York in the 1890s. In the hospitals that would become New York-Presbyterian and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, hundreds of cases of sarcoma, including the hopelessly terminal, were cured with it.
On a lighter side, Briggs and I shared a love of tennis. I taught her to play and she'd always wanted me to make a video. In fact, she shot a little in New York after she needed to stop playing because of the cancer. Some time after losing her, I made one to use with this petition, shooting it where we often used to have a hit together in Greenwich Village. In Briggs's memory, the petition's since been generously signed by tennis greats Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Andy Roddick, Bob and Mike Bryan aka the Bryan Brothers, and Ana Ivanovic. If you know tennis players/sports fans who'd want to join them or spread word via the video, I tell the story behind it in the 'About' section, and there's a link to the petition there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcWQAfMP4uQ. The last racquet Briggs happily swung back and forth was in her hospital bed. I'd bought her a new one as a surprise. Neither of us ever thought we were going to lose the battle to save her.
1 in 3 women can now expect to be diagnosed with cancer within their lifetimes, and 1 in 2 men. I hope you'll join the concerned film, media, and tennis stars and doctors who've signed to begin ending cancer and cancer treatment as we've known it and usher in this new safe, curative era, so long in waiting.
(If you've read Briggs: Love, Cancer, and the Medical Profession, positive comments for building awareness of the petition would helpfully reach more people as a book review on the Amazon kindle/paperback page: www.Amazon.com/BRIGGS. Only the latest comments on the petition show below.)
Thanks for signing, and sharing if you can, in Briggs's memory, to begin changing this for others, or anyone you know with cancer; I hope not a close loved one or you yourself.
(If you're new to Change.org, "Sign this petition" is at the top right of the page.)