Rob’s story

Avastin patient with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC)

Learn how Rob’s diagnosis changed his perspective, his personal philosophy, and how his family provided support, 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.

Rob 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

Rob

Husband, father, musician

My name is Rob.

I was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer.

I'm 41 years old, and I live in San Diego, California.

Paulette's one of the rare—San Diego natives that I've run into. We met about 11 years ago now and got married a few years ago and have a four-year-old daughter named Ruby.

Paulette has been my rock in this entire treatment for cancer. She's always been there.

She's a great foundation for me.

The importance of music

Most of my drumming is on original music. I do a little bit of cover work, but for the most part, it's all original.

I've been playin' for 20 years now.

Most of my musical influences, I would say, are more towards the underground, indie rock.

One of my friends had—his wife was diagnosed with...cancer. And he told me that the most important thing that he felt part of her treatment was to keep doing music. It was a therapy, in a way.

And—I kept playing music even through my first treatments.

On being diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer

I...got into see my doctor after...having stomach issues. He decided to do a flexible sigmoidoscopy. That's when they found a tumor in my rectum...and it looked cancerous.

So—made an appointment with an oncologist. And that's when they said I was stage four.

It was just a blow to the head. You can't—it's un—indescribable, that feeling.

I mean, you go from being what you think is healthy to, suddenly, you're like this is not good.

Everything sorta changes perspective pretty quickly.

We sat in the physician's room for a while. And...decided that we were gonna do whatever we needed to do to fight this.

Treating with Avastin and chemotherapy

My oncologist talked about how the treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer was to go through a regimen of FOLFOX with Avastin. Avastin is designed to help shrink the tumors.

FOLFOX is a type of IV 5-FU–based chemotherapy

Knowing that made it feel like I was in good hands.

Here are some other possible serious side effects you should know about.

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

The advice I'd give people that are—in my current situation is to... find a physician that you're comfortable with, an oncologist that you trust. And follow their advice.

And my outlook has been when I wake up in the morning, if I feel good, just go with it and not to worry about how I might feel in a couple of days, or how I might feel in a couple of months. And if the treatment's working, then I'm going in the right direction.

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. 

Michael patient headshot

MICHAEL

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

Juanita patient headshot

JUANITA

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