‘I leapt at chance to be involved in cancer trial’

Rosaline O’Brien, from Cappamore, Co Limerick, knew nothing about cancer trials until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2013.

Rosaline, 55, the mother of three grown-up sons, works as a nurse at University Hospital Limerick where she is treated by Dr Linda Coate, a consultant medical oncologist.

“I was actually diagnosed through BreastCheck and had my surgery in Cork
University Hospital. Even though I had been working in the same hospital as Dr Coate I knew nothing of the trial.

“I was completely oblivious to cancer trials until I got cancer myself.”

Rosaline is not involved in cancer services in the hospital, she works in another section.

“I leapt at the chance to be involved in a trial. I had no complications and everything went well for me.

“Everything is still going fine. I will have passed the five-year mark by the year-end. I am clear of cancer. I have had repeated scans and I am on hormonal treatment.”

Rosaline believes cancer patients should be involved in cancer trials because it is the only way to beat the disease.

“It would be lovely to think that cancer was like every other illness, that you could treat it and you could be cured.

“But that will only happen if people like me take part in clinical trials so medical experts can find the right drug for the right type of cancer,” she said.

“For me, mentally, it is also a great comfort to know that I am being very closely observed and checked regularly.”

Cancer Trials Ireland has rolled out ‘Just Ask Your Doctor’ campaign, calling on people living with cancer to ask their doctor if there is a relevant cancer trial that they can join to increase their treatment options.

Bridget Myers, 72, from Baldoyle, Dublin, felt a pain in her left arm in November 2010. At first, she did not know what was causing the pain, but then she found a lump.

Bridget was referred to Prof Arnold Hill in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, who confirmed there was a tumour in her left breast and a diagnosis of breast cancer was made.

After her treatment, Bridget got on with her life but three years later she noticed a pain in her left arm. Tests confirmed that she had secondary cancer in her left lung.

Her consultant, Prof Oscar Breathnach, told her about a suitable trial she could join called SNAP that is investigating a chemotherapy drug that has been used for other cancers.

Bridget had not heard of cancer trials before but did not think twice about going on SNAP.

She has been on the trial for four years and all is going well. Her tumour shrunk at the start of the trial and she has had no side-effects.

Bridget said she would encourage people with cancer to go on a trial if a suitable one was available: “The care from the nurses and doctors is incredible; they go over the top to help. It’s like a family. The staff are really great and I couldn’t praise them enough.”

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