Tara DeAugustinis has been battling pleural mesothelioma since diagnosed in early 2016 at the age of 45. She and her husband, Rich, have maintained a personal website documenting her journey with the disease via journal entries, and they have decided to share their story with the mesothelioma community. To read part nine of this story, click here.
Journal entry by Tara DeAugustinis — 3/17/2017
Hello to all my supporters and prayer warriors! This is Tara and I want to give you a quick update. As Rich wrote the last update six weeks ago, I had just started the tazemetostat clinical trial. Since then I have had 4 more trips to NYC with the most recent being this week. Yes, we headed up to Memorial Sloan Kettering on Monday of this week to brave the blizzard conditions. I had no side effects from the tazemetostat. My biggest problem has been continuing to fight this cough and a new terrible cold.
I want to start my update by saying that I stand firm on the following beliefs. God is sovereign. He is in control. He is good and He has a plan for my life. He loves me and will never forsake me. He is with me in this journey. Those beliefs were the same before and after my doctor’s appointments this week even though we did not get the news we were hoping for.
I had a CT Scan on Tuesday and doctor’s appointments on Wednesday. Bottom line, the tazemetostat has done nothing to stop the cancer from growing. My existing cancer grew a bit and there are new “spots” that have shown up since the last scan 6 weeks ago. As my doctor said, the growth is not dire, but it is clear that the tazemetostat is not working. Therefore, I stopped participating in that trial this week.
So what is next? I keep fighting. We focus on one day at a time. I start a new drug protocol at the end of the month. It is a combination of two immunotherapy drugs that will be given to me via infusion (much like chemotherapy). It is a high risk/high reward protocol. It has shown good results in a UK study with people who have the same gene mutation as me. The good news is I will be able to get the infusions every two weeks here in Atlanta and only fly up to NYC to see my doctor every 6 weeks for scans.
I am also having a complication as a result of my surgery last August. I will be going in to see my surgeon on Tuesday, March 28th and may be having a surgical procedure that week to “fix it.” I ask that you pray that they can resolve this complication from my surgery to ensure that it does not cause me to be excluded from other future clinical trials and so that it is not a source of future infection.
I ask that you pray for me and my experience with the drugs in this new protocol. Pray that I am not in the 25% that experiences the “bad” side effects. Pray that these drugs work to stop my cancer from growing and even to shrink it. Pray for my strength and energy. Pray that my faith will remain strong, that that my eyes will stay focused on Him. Pray for Rich and Aubrey as they go through this journey with me and see it up close and personal every day. Pray for my parents who are a huge support. Pray that we will finally get some good news the next time I get a CT Scan.
We are headed to St. John USVI tomorrow for Spring Break. I am so looking forward to it. Our entire family really needs a break and I know that St. John will refresh and renew us all. For me personally, there is no place on earth where I feel God’s presence more. Being surrounded by His beautiful creation is an amazing experience for me. I think a week of having the warm sun on me will be just what I need to get ready to start this new drug treatment.
Sorry for the long update, but there was lots to share. You will never know how much your support and prayers mean to me and my family. We feel your prayers and they help to get us through each day. I want to thank each of you for being on this journey with me.
Journal entry by Rich DeAugustinis — 3/29/2017
Quick prayer request to everyone this morning… Tara will be having a bronchoscopy in about an hour to diagnose a potential condition called a fistula that we think might be causing her cough. Wow, I won’t bore you with the details of the condition. Please keep her in your prayers for a safe and successful procedure, and for wisdom and clear direction from the surgeon on how it can be fixed in the days ahead. This is a purely diagnostic procedure, so we mainly want answers and a plan that can help address the problem and help Tara get rid of the debilitating cough that is causing so much pain and aggravation.
In addition, tomorrow morning Tara will start on the new immunotherapy regimen at Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Please pray that the two new immunotherapy drugs begin working immediately with full impact to address the cancer and halt its progression. As you may know, immunotherapy drugs rev up the body’s immune system to do what it is supposed to do… In this case, specifically target and kill the cancer. We are hopeful and optimistic about this new regimen, and hope that God will use this to bring healing to Tara. He is in control, and we trust the journey and the outcome, no matter what it is. Finally, please pray for little to no side effects from the immunotherapy drugs.
Thank you for your ongoing and steadfast love, support and prayers for Tara and our family. May God bless you all!
Continue reading Tara’s story here: Facing Mesothelioma One Journal Entry at a Time: Part Eleven