I Got to Be a Grandma Thanks to a Cancer Clinical Trial
Would I Be Treated Like a Guinea Pig?
My biggest fear about participating in a clinical trial was fear of the unknown, as it is for many others faced with this decision. I also feared that I was going to be treated like a guinea pig or given a placebo.
My daughters and the oncologist debunked those myths. I learned that clinical trials are necessary to determine whether new treatments developed in the laboratory are beneficial for people living with pancreatic cancer. And I learned there was no chance of receiving a placebo alone, without other treatment. Not only was I ready to take a chance to prolong my survival, I wanted to help others down the road by enrolling in a clinical trial.
After a series of evaluations, I met the criteria to enroll in a trial for patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma who have not received prior chemotherapy. I am currently enrolled in a trial using a targeted-therapy oral medication along with a chemotherapy regimen. I am grateful for the close supervision I receive from the clinical trial team, an added benefit of participation.
As of today, the original tumor has not been growing, nor has the cancer been spreading.
I have been receiving chemotherapy every two weeks for about one-and-a-half years. On my non-treatment weeks, I am cherishing this time and making the most of my moments. I may not be able to run five miles, but I can walk two. I regularly visit family along the East Coast, have been out west, and have participated in six of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PurpleStride 5k events. I’ve been able to "wage hope" in Boston, Scranton, Tampa, Atlanta, and Orlando. My family and friends have organized teams in all of these cities, and also in Raleigh, North Carolina, in Philadelphia, and in Houston.
These events have allowed us to really connect with other pancreatic cancer survivors and their families. They also raise additional funds to help provide personalized support for patients, research grants, and advocacy efforts to increase federal pancreatic cancer research funding.
I want to give hope to those with pancreatic cancer who can't have surgery. All of the survivor stories I found involved the Whipple surgery. I wanted to hear just one story from someone like me. For that survivor with inoperable stage IV pancreatic cancer, there is hope beyond that dismal prognosis.
Resources for Patients Like Me
I encourage anyone facing this disease to contact the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's patient and liaison services team online or by phone 877-272-6226. They have the very latest information about clinical trials and will perform individualized clinical trial searches for patients, free of charge.
I will continue to be a vocal advocate for clinical trials. I credit the clinical trial and treatment team, my tremendous army of support, and most of all my faith for increased quality of life and additional time with my loved ones.
This summer, I am eager to welcome a new granddaughter.
RELATED: 10 Cancer Clinical Trial Facts Every Patient Should Know
Patricia Theobald,shown above with her grandson Asher, is 64 and lives with her husband in Florida, near Dunnellon. She is retired after working for 33 years in social work for the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The Theobalds moved to Florida from New York seven years ago.
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