PETITION FOR BRIGGS FOR CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR ALL - A New Era
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Thanks for coming here in Briggs's memory. I tried for a year to get access to the immunotherapy that could have saved her. Four days after I heard we had a chance, she died of complications brought on in what was meant to be a short hospital stay. It should never have been so close, and no-one should ever go through all Briggs did.
Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S., after cancer and heart disease, and of course cancer patients are among the most vulnerable. The tragedy of this new era not being prioritized is that it can significantly reduce hospital admissions and medical errors while superseding chemotherapy, radiation, and most cancer surgeries.
Cancer disguises itself. Immunotherapy alerts the immune system to it or does such things as block the disguise. The immunotherapeutic vaccine (curative not preventive) I'd been pursuing for Briggs had brought complete remissions in stage IV colorectal cancer in its very first trial; but a major pharmaceutical company had bought the rights. It's no longer in development for colorectal cancer at a time when millennials and Gen X-ers' rates have shot up, attributed to environmental factors. One recent estimate is that anyone born after 1990 now has double the risk.
The rate of melanoma has doubled since the 1970s. In the UK it's 5 times as much. One of the professors on this petition led development of an immunotherapy that put President Jimmy Carter's stage IV melanoma into remission at the end of 2016. That was despite it having already spread to his liver and brain. He himself said he had only months to live without it.
In June, 2018 this Guardian article reported that immunotherapy has now been used to save a 49-year-old woman with terminal breast cancer: Doctors Hail World First in Breast Cancer.
On August 16, 2018 Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Aretha Franklin died from pancreatic cancer. In an article in the Medical Journal of Australia's MJA InSight on the history of immunotherapy, which dates back to major hospitals in 1890s New York, I cited an immunotherapy that brought a complete remission in stage IV pancreatic cancer. That was in 2005, long before actors Alan Rickman and Patrick Swayze, Apple founder Steve Jobs, and 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt also died of it.
On August 24, 2018 Senator John McCain's family announced he had decided to discontinue treatment for his grade IV brain cancer. Just a day later, he died. A contact of mine, the Vice Chair of Neurosurgery at University of California, Los Angeles, has used immunotherapy in John's type of long-incurable cancer since 2003. It also took Senator Ted Kennedy and, in 2015, former Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau, at 46. One of Professor Liau's first patients was a swimming and water-polo coach. At 33, his wife was pregnant with their second child when he was given two months to live. Fifteen years later, he still sends Professor Liau flowers (and a new MRI) every year.
On October 1, 2018, another professor on this petition, Dr. James Allison, the first to sign, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his advances in immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has also worked in acute leukemia after other treatment failed. At the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia a 6-year-old girl's condition was considered terminal, but a test after 3 weeks showed no sign of cancer. 60 Minutes later ran a story on it. That was in 2012. It took 6 years for that treatment to be developed enough for the Food and Drug Administration to approve its first trial.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos and his family have donated $55 million to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center for the development of immunotherapies. Bill and Melinda Gates have invested in a company focused on them. Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg has given $50 million to Johns Hopkins for an immunotherapy centre. A challenge on this petition has been taken by tennis legends Rod Laver, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova among others. Five weeks before Alan Rickman lost his own fight, he selflessly made the first donation through the challenge for the first UK centre focused on immunotherapy.
But for this new era to begin now instead of in 20 years, tens of billions are needed both from Congress and globally. If you might like to read more, this article of mine was featured by HuffPost and Stand Up to Cancer: 30 Stars and Doctors Sign the 'Petition for Briggs'. A shorter piece, a 3-minute read, is about the personal story behind the petition and challenge: From a Sword in Hand in L.A. to a Racquet Against Cancer in NYC.
Please join us in calling for governments, the cancer industry, and cancer organizations to reorient the primary direction of funding, research, and treatment to the safest, most potentially effective immunotherapies in every cancer. Not trials for trials' sake, which has too often been the case in the past with chemo, radiation, and more. An overabundance of unwarranted trials only leads to lack of oversight and harm. And in conjunction with that prioritization, to make information on immunotherapy routinely and widely available to patients and caregivers.
(If you've read Briggs: Love, Cancer, and the Medical Profession, comments to build awareness would helpfully reach more people as a book review on the Amazon kindle/paperback page: www.Amazon.com/BRIGGS. Only the latest show below.)
Heartfelt thanks for signing in Briggs's memory, to begin changing this for others as she so wanted, and for anyone you know with cancer; I hope not a close loved one or you yourself. A touchstone that came from Briggs is, "No matter what age you are, you're too young to die from cancer."
A sister petition to this one addresses Medical Errors. Briggs is one of millions who've died from their treatment, not their cancer: Petition for Briggs for a New Era in Medical Care
Join Rod Laver, Chris Evert, Nick Kyrgios & 10 squash legends and pros in the Volleying Challenge for Briggs's Petition
I've also begun a petition to put Briggs's beautiful, smiling face on the cover of TIME Magazine to begin this new era. 40,000 people have signed so far: Put Briggs on the Cover of TIME.
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