‘Thank You’ to everyone who has contributed to the ‘Give a Little’ ‘Wine Community for Raymond Chan’ page. The amount and speed of donations has been truly incredible, and it has humbled my partner Sue Davies and I, often moving us to tears since the campaign started in the middle of the week. Even more heart-warming has been the outpouring of kindness and love in the comments that have been posted with the donations.
Both Sue and I are New Zealand wine industry people, but we realise that donations have not only come from the industry, but from friends and family. In many, many cases, we do not know who the people are who have donated funds, some of which are not insignificant, to our cause of funding the treatment of my cancer, as they wish to remain anonymous. The generosity and concern we have received is far beyond what we could have ever imagined, and we thank you all for that. Much of the worry, pressure and fears about the immediate future have been allayed, knowing we now have options in moving forward.
My Cancer and Treatment
The treatment I am undergoing is for the recurrence of the cancer that was first diagnosed at the end of 2008. It is lympho-epithelial carcinoma, a very rare form. I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in 2009, but it reappeared at the start of 2015 in the lymph nodes around the windpipe, causing me to cough. Last year I underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy which halted the cancer’s progress, until the earlier part of this year, when it began to be active. Once again, I am on a course of conventional chemotherapies, but we were encouraged to try Pembrolizumab, better known as ‘Keytruda’, one of the new wave of revolutionary drugs that inhibit the growth of cancer through different pathways to conventional chemotherapy. We decided to do this, realising that we were going to need to fund this ourselves, as Pharmac recently approved its funding for melanoma treatment only. A course of treatment involves four intravenous infusions, and the cost is near $9,000 each infusion. We have exhausted our savings now.
I had a very positive CT scan recently which showed significant reduction in the cancer. Unfortunately we cannot be totally sure how much we can attribute the result to the two conventional chemotherapies I am on, or to the Keytruda, as all three drugs are being administered concurrently. We feel that it is possibly a combination of all three. I continue to feel better as we continue the treatments.
The next stage of how treatment will proceed will be in consultation with the oncologists, but now with the funds from the Give a Little campaign, we will have the opportunity of further courses of Keytruda. The positive results do take some time to manifest themselves, but we believe that it is happening. And there are practically no side effects at all with Keytruda, unlike conventional chemotherapies.
In the scenario that the Keytruda is not responsible for any positive results, Sue and I will commit any unused funds to another ‘Wine Community’ cause.
Serving the Wine Community and Reciprocity
I have been very fortunate that throughout last year, and this year, I have been able to continue tasting and my wine review work. It is a focus that helps me through the treatment process, and a pleasure to still be of service to the wine industry. Many of you have stated that you have donated funds due to my activity in the industry, so I will continue to contribute to the growth of New Zealand wine as much as I can.
The reciprocity for me and the ‘Give a Little’ campaign has been due to the efforts of Jane Gill and Denny Downie of Desert Heart in Central Otago, and to Pete Monk of Ata Rangi in Martinborough, with encouragement from many others. Our deepest thanks go to these people, and to you who have donated funds and offered your love and support.
To go to the ‘Give a Little’ ‘Wine Community for Raymond Chan’ page, click here
To go to the Facebook ‘WC4RC’ ‘Wine Community for Raymond Chan’ page, click here