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Fremont Ross Class of 1985

Fremont Ross Class of 1985
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Update on Bob Gillogly

Dates have heightened importance for people diagnosed with cancer. Diagnosis is a life-changing event, emphasizing the importance of each new day. But I think it's also because of the information we read and the way the medical community measures treatment success. Statistics help us understand what we're up against, but it's good to keep them in perspective. After all, Mark Twain said, "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Facts are stubborn but statistics are more pliable."

95% of all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer don't live past their one-year anniversary. Although we knew something was wrong a couple weeks earlier here in Austin, I consider my consultation at MD Anderson on 8/30/06 to be my one-year point. But here you are with another email update. That puts me in the top 5%. Out of that 5%, only a very small number are considered candidates for known treatment that leads to complete cure - and this is what was ruled out in February. So now statistics don't really matter at all. Dates, milestones, and quality, physical progress toward them are much more important.

Last week I had follow-up tests and scans in Houston. The doctor felt the treatment I've been receiving the past 10 weeks has shown some effectiveness in reducing cancer activity, and he advised continuing the same course until our next follow-up in 8-10 weeks. Not news I was thrilled to hear: side effects, especially nausea, are cumulative, and yesterday I discovered that the swelling in my leg is due to a blood clot, common in pancreatic cancer, which means more drugs and precautions.

Still, considering the FACTS of where I am now versus one year ago there is still reason to be in good spirits. For the most part I feel good and have been keeping active. We've discovered promising experimental trials in San Antonio and even some "vaccine-type" treatments elsewhere that work using genetically altered cancer cells. And to see that the fight against cancer is being elevated in state and national dialogs - Texas' legislators initiative to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (to go before voters as a constitutional amendment in November) and Lance Armstrong's efforts to insert the cancer issue into presidential debates - is encouraging.

I know I'll go through this next year thinking about what was happening in 2006. And thinking about the next milestone.

Robert Gillogly, AIA
Project Manager