Sherri was 33 when she thought she was having an appendicitis attack. When she went for an ultrasound to identify the source of the pain in the right lower quadrant of her abdomen, the test revealed masses on both her right and left ovaries.
Ovarian cancer, early stage.
After a total abdominal hysterectomy, including the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes, her oncologist suggested a clinical trial. The trial was evaluating the current standard of care, 3 rounds of chemotherapy, with 6 rounds of chemotherapy; she was randomized to the arm of the study that received 6 rounds.
“I’m very thankful that I was randomized to that arm, because 15 years later, here I am!
“Being in a clinical trial was something that was empowering to me: It was a way that I could participate, a way that I could make a difference for somebody coming after me.
“I am still being followed for survival data, so it’s nice to know that I’m still contributing to the information they will use to treat patients.”
A full-time healthcare professional, Sherri has been cancer-free for 15 years.
A dog lover who puts her heart into action, Sherri rescued her first greyhound, Remy, on her one-year anniversary of finishing chemo.
“I’m not sure who rescued who,” she says with a smile, “but I continue to rescue greyhounds. I really think she represented my commitment to live: I now had this hound to take care of and be there for … I had to live! Ironically she died of cancer….it came full circle. But we had 11 great years together!”
Sherri loves spending time with her nieces and nephews, and she volunteers for Van Andel Research Institute’s Canine Cancer Program.
“I take mouth swab samples of dogs for DNA, looking to isolate the genes that are responsible for 5 types of cancers frequently seen in canines and humans. Moving from bench to bark to bedside, so to speak.”
She is a passionate advocate for clinical trials, and the difference they can make, one patient at a time, as well as for patients yet undiagnosed.
“There were brave women who went before me and went on a clinical trial, and so, you keep wanting to make advances. Can we increase survival? Can we minimize the toxicities from certain regimens? Little by little we make advances."
“Where cancer used to be so deadly, now we’re turning it into more of a chronic disease. And people with ovarian cancer in particular, are living out many more years than what they did 10-15 years ago. It has changed how many practitioners treat stage 1C ovarian cancer, and so now, instead of getting 3 rounds, patients are getting 6, so that’s a beautiful thing.”
Is there a clinical trial right for you?
Cancer clinical trials are research studies for developing better ways of detecting, treating, and eventually preventing cancer.
Clinical trials are not risk free. Everyone needs to explore the options that are best for their individuals needs. Talk to your physician regarding cancer clinical trials right here in west michigan. Read more on clinical trials.