Steve Castellaw: Back to the Golf Course, and a Normal Lifestyle, Thanks to Sotorasib
About three and a half years ago I found a lump on the side of my head, which led to my diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. It was a total shock. With the help of my wife, I was able to get an appointment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center within days of my diagnosis. After a few initial treatments that controlled the cancer temporarily, I participated in a clinical trial for a targeted therapeutic called sotorasib (Lumakras) and have been on this treatment for the past two years. My latest scans show that the treatment continues to be effective. I am back at the course playing golf, spending time with family, and living a normal day-to-day life.
My experience with cancer started about three and a half years ago when I was 72. The lady who trims my hair noticed a lump on the side of my head. I decided to get it checked out at my next physical examination with my GP. My doctor suggested an MRI after which I was rushed to a surgery and biopsy right away. The following day I received my diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. The tumor was in my left lung and had metastasized to my right pelvis, the L1 and L2 vertebrae on my spine, and up to my skull. The news felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat. I had been getting my regular physical examinations every 12 or 15 months for the last four decades and had never had any problems. This was a rude awakening.
My wife has been my biggest supporter throughout this experience. Right after my diagnosis she contacted a friend who is a doctor and who helped us get an appointment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is where I am being treated.
My initial treatment was chemotherapy and even though it was quite effective at first, the cancer stopped responding after a while. After Thanksgiving in 2018, my oncologist switched my treatment to an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Like chemotherapy, the immunotherapy initially worked to control my cancer but then stopped. At this point I spoke with the physicians in the clinical trial department. They performed some tests and based on the findings I was selected to be a part of the clinical trial testing a molecularly targeted therapeutic called sotorasib. Since then, I have been receiving sotorasib for about two years and the treatment has been holding its course. I saw a big reduction in tumor size. Other than a light swelling of the ankles and some skin rash I have had no side effects. I travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center for my follow-up every three weeks and every 12 weeks I receive an MRI of my brain and a CT body scan. As of my last follow-up, everything is still looking good.
Compared to where I was five years ago, the only real difference is that I am five years older. Otherwise, I am still playing golf, doing my exercises, and living a normal lifestyle. My health care team at MD Anderson has been like my family through this entire experience and I can’t thank them enough for their care and support.
I tell anyone who wonders about the importance of cancer research to take a walk through the halls of the cancer center. You see patients from four or five years old to those in their eighties or nineties. Cancer knows no boundaries. It affects people of all ages, races, colors, and creeds. Only by funding cancer research can we keep moving forward against this devastating disease and bring hope to the many patients who need it the most.