Staring Down Cancer

A new cancer drug on the horizon


A few weeks ago, I mentioned that there would be an exciting announcement made this week at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting held this year in San Diego.  

It happened.

Both Pfizer and Eli Lilly have released their reports on the successful trial findings using CDK 4/6 inhibitor drugs.

Pfizer's drug is palbociclib and Eli Lilly's drug is bemaciclib.  Both have been used for post-menopausal women who have metastatic estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer.  Although breast cancer has several subtypes, ER+ is the largest population, with approximately 50,000 American women in this category.

What have they shown with this drug?  They have shown that a cancer tumor can be targeted without killing the good cells at the same time, which is what chemotherapy does.  That is why chemo has such horrible side effects.  I think by now we all know what those side effects are, since I have experienced them all and am living with many that will always be with me.

The idea of creating "targeted therapy" is something that the Noreen Fraser Foundation has funded at UCLA from the beginning.  We believed in this research and, of course, in the brilliance of both Dr. Dennis Slamon and Dr. Richard Finn, who were the principal investigators.  About two years ago, Pfizer took over the research from UCLA and committed $190 million to continue the development.

Although there was some push-back at the conference with those who said the trials were not big enough, there was overall enthusiasm as to the future of these drugs in treating all cancers.  The New York Times stated that this class of drugs is “being closely watched on Wall Street, because palbociclib is considered a jewel in Pfizer's product pipeline, with analysts predicting annual sales of billions of dollars."

Pfizer is awaiting the Food and Drug Administration’s decision for approval.  If they are granted approval, the drug could be available next year.

Eli Lilly's bemaciclib is running the race directly behind Pfizer. Their CDK 4/6 inhibitor has been "tweaked" so as not to be identical with the competition.  This is the Phase 1 study that I am part of.  I have been in this study for 15 months, and since the second month, my liver metastasis has not grown.  There has been slight shrinkage, but as long as it is not growing, I know I will be alive.

I am the only one I know of who does not believe or care about the cancer “cure.”  I believe waiting for the so-called cure is being short-sighted.  Instead of a cure, let's put our focus on research!  This is where the drugs will come from that will turn cancer into a chronic – but livable – disease.  If I can have as few side effects as I have now from this Eli Lilly drug, I could have a good quality of life.

There is no hair loss, no nausea, no pain, no neuropathy.  The only side effect I have now is that the drug makes me tired.  I must accept that I have to do less.  I can do that!  (Don't check that out with my family.)

Today, life is good and things are looking up!

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at