There is a new clinical trial happening at UCHealth that could shorten the amount of time some breast cancer patients need to undergo radiation therapy. The very first patient to enroll in the trial is Sara DeBord from Colorado Springs.
For Sara the moment of her diagnosis was something she will never forget. "I felt something and went to the doctor in February. The diagnosis was a shock and when they sat me up on the table and said, ‘we think you have cancer’ I think I said ‘oh’ and started crying."
The very week she met with doctors and a nurse navigator who mapped out their plan of attack. Sara says knowing exactly what she was up against was all the difference for her. “I knew it was just something I needed to go through the steps, to deal with."
Being an avid runner Setting a goal and taking steps to accomplish it came naturally for Sara. Her first goal was to still run in her 3rd Boston Marathon, that was after her first two rounds of chemo.
Sara says, "I was pretty determined. I had run marathons before so it wasn't like I got diagnosed and decided to run a marathon. I was already signed up and I had done Boston twice before on my birthday so it's an important and special thing to me. I promised I would do it smartly and if I got dehydrated I would stop. It was my slowest marathon, I walked through the water stations, but I ran across the finish line."
Chemo was followed by radiation, something Sara hoped to avoid. She followed the advice of a friend, who had just battled breast cancer by choosing a reward for the end of her treatment. Sara decided her reward would to signing up for a running retreat in October. When registration opened, the time frame for radiation hadn’t been set, in fact she hadn’t even met her Radiation Oncologist.
Sara recalls, "Registration opened in August and I hadn't met with Dr. Ridings yet. I didn't know when my radiation would be, but I signed up anyway. When I met Dr. Ridings I said ‘I need to be done by October 13th’ and she said ok, and turned and looked at a wall calendar. With a regular course of radiation treatment we were looking at the 6 to 6 and half weeks, which would have been just enough to time, (to finish by October 13th). Later that day she called me up and said she had this trial, and said it would be a shorter treatment time and it sounded like a great idea."
Taking part in the clinical trial helped Sara finish up radiation a couple of weeks before her running retreat to reward herself, and in the process she has become one patient, the first patient, in this trial that may benefit other women in future in so many ways.
Dr. Ridings, a co-investigator of the trial says without patients like Sara, progress in fighting breast cancer and so many other diseases simply wouldn’t be possible. "Every advance we have made in medicine, particularly oncology has been a result of well planned clinical trials and all sorts of brave patients who are willing to be a part of them."
For more information about this UCHealth radiation course clinical trial, call Memorial Hospital's Radiation and Oncology department at, 719-365-6800.