This Article is About
bone marrow transplant
cancer survivor
stroke of luck
day of our life
cancer patients
gratefulness
new drugs
personal story
blood work
thankfulness
Cancer Clinical Trial Participants Are Heroes
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Cancer Clinical Trial Participants Are Heroes

Gratitude. “Thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling, emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.”

Oprah often spoke about gratitude and how important it is each and every day of our life to stop and give thanks. My work with cancer patients reminds me each and every day about gratitude. My personal story of being a cancer survivor and that of my brother who is a cancer survivor also have me reflect each day with gratitude.

I am grateful first and foremost to the cancer patients who went before me. These wonderful people chose to volunteer in clinical trials. They understood the importance of their participation in the testing of new drugs and new treatments. They brought hope to the idea that there are still better drugs, better treatments to be discovered.

I want to share my personal story with you. This experience is an example of how dramatic discovery can be. When I entered a doctor’s office in January 2003 at the age of 43 I was told, “there is no cure for your disease. You have somewhere between 4-8 years to live. We will start you on the Gold Standard treatment which is a daily injection of a drug called Interferon. Interferon has some harsh side effects. We will monitor you over several months to allow the drug to take affect and improve your leukemia. However, if the Interferon does not give us good results then you will need a bone marrow transplant. Devastating words to hear!

Eleven months passed and it was looking grim. The leukemia was winning. I went for my doctors visit and a stroke of luck came my way. The doctor went on to tell me that the FDA had approved a new drug in the last few months that during clinical trials had absolutely amazing results. He prescribed a pill! No more injections. He told me we should see improvement in 3 months. I was excited, but found it very hard to believe the change could be that quick. Low and behold three months later my blood work and bone marrow were drastically improved. A miracle! This new drug became the first of its kind - a breakthrough in cancer treatment.

Eight years have passed since I started on the successful targeted therapy. Two years ago my blood for the first time was negative for CML. I continue to take medicine daily to keep from relapsing. Twice each day when I take my pills I thank the patients before me who had volunteered to try the new drug. If it wasn’t for them I would not be here today.

Before 2000 less than 50% of CML patients survived seven years. Today nearly 90% are alive after ten years. Discovery!

Think for a moment about this fact. Twenty years ago cancer was the worst diagnosis one could ever hear. Treatments were often torturous and death was imminent. Today many cancers have been declared “chronic diseases.” That is amazing. That dramatic change in treatments offered is directly related to all the brave, courageous, compassionate cancer patients who were willing to pay it forward. Each and every one is a hero. Let us remember our heroes and offer them our gratitude.


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