Ask A Survivor

Patrick Koske-McBride
2 min readJan 1


Q: So, when you were in treatment, you were on chemo, right?
A: Yes. Both standard chemo for glioma, and a clinical trial for a repurposed blood chemo agent.

Q: And how long were you in treatment?
A: About a year, sum total.

Q: And it was effective?
A: So far; I’m at five years post diagnosis, approaching five years No Evidence of Disease, and I’ll be five years out of treatment next December.

Q: So, why aren’t you still on treatment?
A: What, the experimental stuff, or regular old Temodar?

Q: Yes.
A: Well, there are a couple of pragmatic reasons. The first is that chemo has side effects, like any drug, and, the longer you’re on it, the more you increase the chances that you’ll experience even worse side effects than the ones you see in a Lifetime film.

Q: Worse than nausea, pain, baldness, and anxiety?
A: Oh, yeah; we can get secondary cancers (usually blood cancers) caused by treatment if we’re on it long enough, so, everyone gets a maximum lifetime of treatment for any given cancer. However, that maximum is very idiosyncratic to both the individual’s cancer, the treatment, and what oncologists feel comfortable with. As far as the experimental treatment, there’s a much more pragmatic reason.

Q: And that is?
A: Part of testing involves how long the drug company is willing to offer it to patients for usage. Because there are patent rights, financial investors, and, a biomedical research team involved, these are beyond-controlled substances, so, when they pull the plug, that’s it. And they don’t want to offer treatments forever, both because of increasing risk of cancer, and because it will, eventually, disqualify the drug by the FDA.

Q: How so?
A: Well, as of writing, the mortality rate of humanity is 100%. So, if survivors are on any substance forever — even if it’s Vitamin C, it’ll be linked to heart disease, cancer, and all the diseases we associate with aging, because there isn’t much nuance in collecting biomedical statistics.



Patrick Koske-McBride

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”