Michael’s story

Avastin patient with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC)

Learn about Michael’s personal victories, his journey with treatment, and what inspires him. Read the full transcript below.
These patient stories are representative of the patient at the time of recording. The current status of the patient is not represented here.

MIchael is a metastatic colorectal cancer patient who shares his experiences taking Avastin (or bevacizumab). Throughout his story, you’ll see important safety information about Avastin. Experiences with Avastin may differ between individuals, so it’s important to be informed about possible side effects.

Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (mCRC)

Avastin is approved to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) for:

  • First- or second-line treatment in combination with intravenous 5-fluorouracil–based chemotherapy
  • Second-line treatment when used with fluoropyrimidine-based (combined with irinotecan or oxaliplatin) chemotherapy after cancer progresses following a first-line treatment that includes Avastin

Avastin is not approved for use after the primary treatment of colon cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.

There are some possible serious side effects of Avastin you should know about.

Possible serious side effects

Everyone reacts differently to Avastin therapy. So, it's important to know what the side effects are. Although some people may have a life-threatening side effect, most do not. Your doctor will stop treatment if any serious side effects occur. Be sure to contact your health care team if there are any signs of these side effects.

Most serious side effects (not common, but sometimes fatal):

  • GI perforation. A hole that develops in your stomach or intestine. Symptoms include pain in your abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever
  • Wounds that don't heal. A cut made during surgery can be slow to heal or may not fully heal. Avastin should not be used for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed
  • Serious bleeding. This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; nosebleeds; and vaginal bleeding. If you recently coughed up blood or had serious bleeding, be sure to tell your doctor

Michael

Husband, chef, poet

My name is Michael. I’m from Pembroke Pines, Florida. And I’m 57 years old. I’m married to my love, Colleen, for over 31 years.

We married fairly young. And before we knew it, it was 31 years.

We pretty much know what each other’s thinking. We do everything together.

When Colleen’s out of the house, I’ll cook.

As far as cooking—there are certain things that I enjoy putting together…vegetables of all colors of the spectrum.

The cooking together gives me a newfound freedom.

I do write poetry occasionally. I have written different—poetries to Colleen. Because to me the—the writing of poetry comes from my heart and my soul.

Michael's diagnosis

Sometime in April a while back I had some issues…and just felt strange…it didn’t go away.

I went to see my primary care physician. And she suggested to me that I take a colonoscopy. At that time I had no clue even what a colonoscopy was.

He got to the sigmoid area which is the lower part o' the colon and he said, "This does—this is not supposed to be there—I would say it’s colon cancer." So I went through the procedure. Didn’t think much of it.

But I thought much of it the next day when I received the call…from other folks that said I had adenocarcinoma. And then they proceeded to tell me that I had colon cancer, they did not say what stage. But it was very relevant that I come in as soon as possible.

I—I think we all go through different scenarios in our-- in our mind. And-- and we go through different ways of being able to deal with when we’re told bad news.

All I wanted to do was just go on with my life, not even thinking about the severity of-- of the problem, not even really believing that it was cancer.

And this was my way of going through just being told that I had cancer. I know when I-- called Colleen-- pretty much the phone went dead.

But I did tell her, "It—it’s gonna be okay," even though I didn’t know it was gonna be okay.

Well, that was just the beginning of my journey.

Fast forward, the day came…

…I was told that I had metastatic colorectal cancer.

Treating with Avastin and chemotherapy

Once I did start chemotherapy I started with 5-FU and Avastin.

Avastin is approved to treat mCRC for first- or second-line treatment in combination with intravenous 5-fluorouracil–based chemotherapy. Avastin is not approved for use after the primary treatment of colon cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.

The Avastin I was told is not…chemotherapy.

It could shrink the tumor and it can stop the blood flow to the tumor.

That’s the type of medication I wanted on my team.

Continuing with Avastin after cancer progressed

When I had a reoccurrence of cancer which progressed in my left liver lobe, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my oncologist.

And so I said, "Well, what options do I have? Because this is this is my second time.”

He mentioned some chemotherapy. But Avastin came up because I was on it previously.

Avastin is approved to treat mCRC for second-line treatment when used with fluoropyrimidine-based (combined with irinotecan or oxaliplatin) chemotherapy after cancer progresses following a first-line treatment that includes Avastin. Avastin is not approved for use after the primary treatment of colon cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.

And I can honestly say…

…I believed in what I was taking…I believed in Avastin…

I have been on Avastin throughout my journey with colorectal cancer.

And I—I won’t say that I ever wanted to quit because I always felt that whatever I was taking—chemo-wise and Avastin—was always helping me.

Other possible serious side effects

  • Abnormal passage in the body. This type of passage—known as a fistula—is an irregular connection from one part of the body to another and can sometimes be fatal
  • Severe high blood pressure. Blood pressure that severely spikes or shows signs of affecting the brain. Blood pressure should be monitored every 2 to 3 weeks while on Avastin and after stopping treatment
  • Kidney problems. These may be caused by too much protein in the urine and can sometimes be fatal
  • Infusion reactions. These were uncommon with the first dose (less than 3% of patients). 0.2% of patients had severe reactions. Infusion reactions include high blood pressure or severe high blood pressure that may lead to stroke, trouble breathing, decreased oxygen in red blood cells, a serious allergic reaction, chest pain, headache, tremors, and excessive sweating. Your doctor or nurse will monitor you for signs of infusion reactions
  • Severe stroke or heart problems. These may include blood clots, mini-stroke, heart attack, chest pain, and your heart may become too weak to pump blood to other parts of your body (congestive heart failure). These can sometimes be fatal
  • Nervous system and vision problems. Signs include headache, seizure, high blood pressure, sluggishness, confusion, and blindness

Be sure to contact your health care team if there are any signs of side effects.

Advice for others with cancer

What I would like to share…is that whatever level you’re at with your therapy…don’t give up.

If you don’t feel that you’re getting the proper information… talk to your oncologist.

But you have to press forward. You have to believe. You have to give it your best.

If you found this story inspiring, please read the other patient stories featured on this site.

Every patient’s experience is different. You should always seek out a physician’s opinion regarding your own treatment plan.

Remember, though, that every patient’s experience is different. You should always seek out a physician’s opinion regarding your own treatment plan.

Side effects seen most often

In clinical studies across different types of cancer, some patients experienced the following side effects:

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in the urine
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Taste change
  • Dry skin
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Inflammation of the nose
  • Watery eyes

Avastin is not for everyone

Talk to your doctor if you are:

  • Undergoing surgery. Avastin should not be used for 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed
  • Pregnant, think you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Data have shown that Avastin may harm your unborn baby. Use birth control while on Avastin. If you stop Avastin, you should keep using birth control for 6 months before trying to become pregnant. Taking Avastin could cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working and may impair her ability to have children. Breastfeeding while on Avastin may harm your baby and is therefore not recommended during and for 6 months after taking Avastin

If you have any questions about your condition or treatment, talk to your doctor.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please see full Product Information, including Serious Side Effects, for additional important safety information. 

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ROB

Living with metastatic colorectal cancer, a type of colon cancer.

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JUANITA

Living with metastatic colorectal cancer, a type of colon cancer.