Monday, June 11, 2012

Medical Oncologist and First Clinical Trial


Shannon went from having the ancillary lymph node dissection surgery to physical therapy almost immediately. During this time she also changed her job location and job assignment with the Army Audit Agency. She moved from working at Ft Meade, Maryland to working at the Pentagon. She was put on a research team at the Pentagon and this allowed her to telework on days she was not well enough to travel to Virginia. Looking back, this was a wonderful thing the Army Audit Agency did for Shannon.

Shannon was referred to a Medical Oncologist to pick a treatment drug to help fight to keep the cancer cells from coming back. What she and Ben found when they went to their first appointment with Dr. B. (not the same Dr. B) - is that there is no cure drug for Stage III Melanoma. This is also the first time she and Ben had heard her staging. Dr. B. told Shannon and Ben that they might as well not even bother trying Interferon- which was the standard of care at the time. Dr. B. told them it would just make Shannon very sick and not really do anything. Dr. B. told Shannon that her best chance for a longer life was to find a clinical trial. He gave her some quick advice on how to find one and then – zip- he was gone from the exam room.

When Shannon came home and called me to let me know how the appointment had gone, I was shocked that Dr. B. had not explained things more fully to her. Shannon and Ben knew that they did not want to choose a clinical trial that was randomized. They wanted to be sure she was receiving treatment medications. Over the next few days I had to work on Shannon to get her nerve up to call Dr. B.’s office for some advice on how to pick the right Clinical Trial.

Shannon put a call in to Dr. B. and he called her back and he seemed more relaxed on the phone with her and they reviewed a few trials and ended up selecting one that was soon to start at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Dr. B. put the call in for her and she had her appointment. Shannon and Ben met with the physician at Franklin Square and the nurses that would be taking care of her. She and Ben both felt peace in their decision to begin this clinical trial.

This clinical trial is best described by Shannon in her own words.

So, we will hear from Shannon for the next few posts. You will hear her hope and faith coming through loud and clear. We were all looking on the bright side and believing God for a miracle.

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