On September 15, 2008, I started out the day as a healthy, 52-year-old, non-smoker. Cancer was the last thing on my mind. But by the end of the day a sudden seizure had landed me in the hospital and I was diagnosed with inoperable, stage IV lung cancer that had spread to my brain. I was advised to immediately “get my affairs in order” and was offered little hope. But what I discovered instead is that there is hope; and even with the most advanced cancers, lives are being saved!
Immediately after receiving my diagnosis, my best friend, a pharmacist, urged me to seek a second opinion from Dr. Robert Nagourney. She knew that his research into how cancer cells grow and die, and how to find the best treatment for each individual, was producing remarkable results. I consulted with Dr. Nagourney at his research laboratory, Rational Therapeutics. He examined me and then explained that I wasn’t sick, I had cancer, and his goal was to keep me from getting sick. You can’t imagine what a difference that way of thinking meant to me and my family. It was the difference between hope and no hope.
By analyzing a piece of my tumor in the laboratory, Dr. Nagourney was able to identify which FDA approved drugs would have the best chance of killing my cancer. The specific test that Dr. Nagourney developed (EVA-PCD assay) has been performed by Rational Therapeutics thousands of times. It seems like such an obvious approach, but it wasn’t even an option that my original doctors had informed me about! And so, rather than following the standard path—guessing which chemo drugs might work, and making me sicker in the process if they failed—Dr. Nagourney was able to prescribe the correct, most effective treatment from the start. With one simple test he doubled my odds. Within a few months, my tumors were in remission and I can honestly say I still don’t really know what it feels like to have lung cancer.
I know it may be too soon to predict my long term survival, but I can say with certainty that I am living better today than I ever imagined.
One of the worst things about cancer is fear of the unknown—wondering if you are doing all you can for yourself or your loved ones. But you CAN start your journey on the right foot. You and your oncologist CAN know what the best treatment will be for your unique cancer.
A sign on the wall at Rational Therapeutics states “Hope Practiced Here”. I am living proof of that hope.