Lifesaving Benefits of World-class Research
Like many Canadians, Laura Crane and her family have not been spared from the devastating effects of cancer. Her father survived melanoma skin cancer, so she was diligent about checking her skin and seeing her doctor regularly. In 2015, the then 37-year-old teacher discovered a mole on her body, so she promptly went to her doctor and had it removed.
However, further tests revealed troubling news — Laura had stage 3 melanoma and the disease had spread to her lymph nodes. “I was shocked. I had never been ill in my life. I always got my annual check-ups and then discovered that I not only had cancer, but that it was at stage 3,” says Laura.
The Thunder Bay resident underwent two surgeries to remove all the lymph nodes under her left armpit. Faced with the potential side effects of her proposed treatment, Laura was keen to seek alternate treatments. She looked into clinical trials, which are research studies that test new ways to prevent, detect, treat or manage cancer or other diseases.
On one of her visits to Toronto to see some skin cancer specialists, Laura met with Dr Teresa Petrella. She told her about a new clinical trial at Sunnybrook Hospital and urged her to check back with her team after surgery to see if the trial was up and running. Laura only had a window of time after surgery when she was eligible for the trial. She kept checking back until she heard the exciting news – not only had the trial been approved within a few days of her last day of eligibility but it was also going to be running in her hometown of Thunder Bay.
Under Dr Petrella’s guidance, Laura was the first person in Canada to be enrolled in a clinical trial to examine the effect of the drug pembrolizumab in treating advanced cases of melanoma.
“Clinical trials are the cutting edge of cancer treatment and I wanted to be a part of a movement that is looking for a way forward,” says the mother of two, who urges people to donate to support these cancer research projects.
There are Canadian Cancer Society (CCS)-supported clinical trials at many hospitals and cancer centres across the country, including the cancer centre in Laura’s hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of this trial. It is allowing me to not only contribute to my own health but will hopefully impact the greater good by giving those faced with this diagnosis in the future access to effective treatments.”
The Canadian Cancer Society invests almost $5 million dollars a year in clinical trials across the country through its support of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). This group is a world leader in conducting cancer clinical trials that are changing how cancer is managed and treated.
“This clinical trial has given me hope and makes me feel more positive about my cancer. While you can’t measure hope, a positive outlook definitely helps in the cancer journey.”