Many visitors here know I am a ten year leukemia survivor. The type of leukemia is CLL or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It's the same one CBS newsman Ed Bradley died from a few weeks ago.

The treatments are improving and I was lucky enough to be in a clinical trial that combined two chemotherapy drugs, Fludara and Cytoxan, with a monoclonal antibody called Rituxan. It worked for me more than five years ago and my CLL remains at undetectable levels.

However, FCR, as the drug combo is called, doesn't work for everyone. Fortunately there is another powerful drug called Campath that helps some of these folks. But even so, the cupboard doesn't have much to offer if your health is failing.

That's where new drugs come in and one new approach is called "anti-sense therapy." A promising drug in that category is called Genasense. It recently was discussed at an FDA Oncology Drug Advisory Committee (ODAC) hearing and I attended and testified as a patient advocate. I was disappointed that the committee had few members who specialized in CLL or had much experience with it. In the end, the committee advised the FDA in a vote of 7 to 3 NOT to approve the drug.

Things looked really bleak for Genasense. But we and others with CLL cried "foul." We didn't think the drug was getting a fair chance. At the 11th hour the FDA grudgingly took a second look and decided to take three more months to decide. We are in the middle of that review period now and it's a highly unusual reprieve.

Astute patients will wonder what was the data that convinced the FDA to take a fresh look? That data is attached as presented at a meeting of oncology experts in New York in November. (Click here for slides on Genasense presented at the meeting.) So if you are pretty sharp, this will be helpful.

For the rest of us this is a story of 1) not always assuming the FDA is well equipped to look out for us and 2) taking heart that an outcry from grassroots patients can make a difference.

I'll report back what happens in the end. Hopefully it will be a "thumbs up" for Genasense and a new tool for fighting leukemia.