Conversations at the Bar featuring Ellis Avery

We were thrilled to have author Ellis Avery join us to chat for a few minutes about her new series of essays, collectively titled, The Family Tooth. You can pick up selected essays individually as Kindle Singles or in a compiled zine format available through Etsy:

Ellis wanted to share some information about the arthritis drug that she mentions but we got carried away with other stuff and time got away from us. We’re including it below for all who are interested.

As for the arthritis drug I mentioned? I was on Humira, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker like Enbrel or Remicade. You can find a 2009 FDA warning online that shows an increase in leiomyosarcoma–which is the rare uterine cancer with which I was diagnosed after three years on Humira– and other cancers, among juvenile and adolescent patients taking TNF blockers. Radiation and chemo have not been shown to prolong the lives of patients with leiomyosarcoma, nor have they been shown to prevent recurrence: at the time of the cancer diagnosis, I was given a 26% chance of five year survival.

However, since having gone off Humira just before the cancer surgery in 2012, my scans have actually shown no evidence of disease. That is, I went off the Humira and the cancer went away. Neither my rheumatologist nor my oncologist would ever say that Humira had given me leiomyosarcoma, but once I was diagnosed, both insisted I stop taking it.

Of course, not everyone who takes Humira gets cancer, but I do want people to hear my story, because TNF blockers are among the most profitable drugs in the history of medicine, and the companies who manufacture them have a lot of money to spend on advertising.

You can check out all of Ms. Avery’s work by clicking right here.

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