Diane Sarver is a four-time ovarian cancer survivor. Although she didn't have any of the typical ovarian cancer signs and symptoms - bloating or a feeling of fullness and/or constipation - a physical therapist recommended she look further into the fluid in the left side of her neck. A biopsy procedure in January 2010 revealed stage IV ovarian cancer. Diane's first round of chemotherapy put her in remission, but the ovarian cancer came back two years later. After two additional recurrences in less than three years, Diane decided to look at other options.
I had heard many MD Anderson success stories, so even though it's not close to me, I decided it was time to learn what might be available. It takes quite a bit of travel time to get to Houston from Oregon, but when you have the opportunity to be on a potentially lifesaving clinical trial, the travel becomes manageable and part of a welcome routine.
A friend of mine knows Dr. Robert Bast, vice president for translational research, at MD Anderson, so she made a call of introduction for me. After a thorough consult, I was told of two clinical trials for which I was a good candidate.
I joined a Phase IB trial that is part of the Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot™. I take two oral medications twice a day ― olaparib, which is FDA-approved, and AZD2014, an investigational drug. There is an entire team at MD Anderson that is extremely helpful when one begins a clinical trial. All my questions, from insurance benefits to housing, were answered for my specific needs.
After about the first seven weeks, all of my test results had normalized without side effects, which is a remarkable response. Because of this I am called an ‘unusual responder.’
I am appreciative every day to have the opportunity to participate in this clinical trial at MD Anderson. Everyone, from the housekeeping staff to those in the restaurants, gift shops and labs, and especially the clinicians, has always impressed me with kindness and a focus on patient care. For a committed patient, a clinical trial could be life-changing and life-sustaining. I cannot encourage people enough to gain knowledge, ask questions and learn to become your own best advocate.
Deciding to plunge into an early phase clinical trial is not done without careful consideration, but I am grateful every day for those who conceptualized and those who facilitate the program. It is an exciting and forward-thinking mission to reduce morbidity and mortality for these 12 specific cancers, so I am fortunate indeed to have found my Moon Shot!
What's your Moon Shot? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program is important to you.