Geraldine Satossky is 67, and she has been living with cancer for 11 years. Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, she is alive and enjoying life. Eight years ago, when her cancer, previously in remission returned, she didn’t expect to live this long:



Once again I underwent surgery, a liver resection. I was then put on the drugs Navelbine and Etoposide. At first, it seemed to work-my cancer went into remission. But three years later, the cancer came back. I now had four tumors in my liver and my outlook wasn’t very good. My doctor was blunt: “You’re in big trouble,” he told me.



Thankfully, a clinical trial had recently started and I was selected for a combination of Xeloda and Avastin. Xeloda is a chemotherapy pill that kills cancerous cells. Avastin cuts off blood-flow to tumors. Almost immediately two of my tumors disappeared. The duel-pronged approach appeared to be working.



Nearly three-and-a-half years have passed. Today, I’m not just living life; I’m enjoying it. While I get tired more easily than I used to, I can take part in just about all normal activities. I can go out to dinner with my husband. I can visit with friends.


But this may change. The FDA is expected to rule tomorrow on whether to follow an advisory panel’s recommendation withdrawing approval from Avastin. Medicare would no longer pay for Avastin. If this happens, Ms. Satosskey really will be in big trouble. Why on earth would the FDA want to do this?


Well, it’s medicine as practiced by numbers, with bureaucrats in control. Avastin prolongs and enriches many lives. But it hasn’t hit a statistical goal that would make it more attractive to the bureaucrats. Your physician might think it could help you, but it won’t matter.


Ms. Satossky  is a patient who has benefited enormously from Avastin. But her case is a harbinger of the future for us all-a future in which, if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (talk about an Orwellian name!)is allowed to stand, we’ll all become not patients but statistics.