Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

Monday evening, my wife Lorie and I traveled to Bethesda, MD in advance of my third infusion with M7824, a completely novel, first-in-class, bispecific fusion protein (see prior posts for more details). However, this was my first time being infused as an outpatient in the day hospital, as prior infusions required a short stay in the hospital for blood work, observation, etc. As with the first two infusions, everything went smoothly yesterday, with no adverse reactions during or following treatment. We caught a 9pm train home and were in bed by 12:30am ET.


Caught sleeping on the Amtrak train ride home by Lorie on February 21, 2017. Long day!

As I posted on social media throughout the day while at the NIH, I was truly humbled by the outpour of support – especially hearing from people I haven’t seen in years or decades. Amid the sea of political rants and opinions via these channels, it was nice to be reminded that social media can be a positive experience. Throughout the emails, Tweets, and posts, a lot of people remarked that I sound and appear “surprisingly positive” and “happy.” And truth be told – they’re RIGHT.

Sure, I have advanced cancer – and I’m not Pollyanna about what the future may have in store for me as a result. But, I was very fortunate to participate in a clinical study with a quite promising, investigational immunotherapy that has, so far, had no negative impact on my day-to-day quality of life. That is a very stark contrast from what I experienced after going through chemoradiation. While the outcome is far from certain, participating in this clinical study has given me every reason to “hope” that the therapy will work. And it is that hope that gets me up in the morning…smiling…ready to face the new day.

Michael D. Becker receiving IV infusion with M7824 - a novel, first-in-class, bispecific fusion protein

Michael D. Becker receiving his third IV infusion with M7824 – a novel, first-in-class, bispecific fusion protein on February 21, 2017

If anything has changed recently, it has been for the better. I’m now focusing my existing time and energy where I want, and it has been liberating. Death is always knocking on our doors, but it isn’t until the sound becomes louder later in life that you discover new priorities and sense of urgency. In this regard, I’ve started writing my memoir covering a +20-year biotechnology career and have been working with an amazing editor. I always enjoyed writing blogs and newsletters, but Lorie strongly encouraged me to finally write a book and it has been quite rewarding thus far. My goal is to get it done by late summer or so (30,000 words so far…), and I will definitely let everyone know more details via this blog as the project advances. I also recently started a coffee table book project to showcase my photography work over the past few years, with approximately 200 images selected and a draft layout complete. To fund the latter, I plan on launching a KickStarter campaign to finish the design and secure a larger order to reduce the per unit cost. And most importantly, through my disease openness and this patient blog, I’m exploring numerous opportunities to help raise awareness for currently available vaccines that can protect boys and girls against human papillomavirus (HPV) subtypes that most commonly cause anal, cervical, oropharyngeal, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.

So, yes…I’m a cancer survivor and I’m positive because I have “hope” and will continue until life shows me otherwise. Inspired? Good…that’s my goal!

Finally, special thanks to everyone for the thoughts, gifts and support. Hearing from people I haven’t seen in years has also been amazing. A truly humbling experience and greatly appreciated.

7 thoughts on “Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

  1. Thanks for blogging. It’s always nice to hear updates from you and even sweeter when you report that you’re feeling well and setting new goals. Sending prayers and positive energy your way today and every day.

  2. I haven’t seen you in years. Our daughters went through elementary and middle school together. I have been a silent reader I see your blog through Lorie’s FB. I am fascinated by your articulation of your story. I relate as a medical experiment, a self advocate in need of trying all options that are logical to me, and as a person with the support and hope to keep going with the best attitude possible. I am still here and should not be. Your scientific knowledge and desire to demonstrate an inner strength to others is a great legacy. I think, as patients, we all could use more of those qualities to get ourselves the best care and quality of life possible. You are fortunate to have the combination of qualities to empower others to learn the science while self advocating and managing overwhelming emotions to ultimately get a positive quality of life. I am not as articulate, but I believe that these qualities are the key to getting through a horrible situation with no regrets and lots of pride and love for your family and the people surrounding you.

    • Dear Ilene – It’s been quite a while, but of course I remember you and your wonderful family very well. I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful (and quite articulate…) comments! I hope you’re doing well and best to you and the family. Thank you again for taking the time to write…

  3. It’s a powerful and moving story you have to tell and share. Thank you for letting us all be a part of it! Everything you’ve posted that I’ve read is truly a testament to the power of positivity!!! You continue to be in my prayers and I send you all the good vibes and good juju to one cancer survivor can send another.

Leave a Reply