No, we’re not talking about criminal or civil trials, we’re talking about cancer drug trials. In the UK they can be typically found via this website.
These are situation where people like me, with terminal diagnoses; who have exhausted all conventional treatments are ultimately faced with two options; do nothing, or become a Guinea pig. Doing nothing is never my preferred options so a guinea pig (again) it is then.
I can’t speak for anyone else in a similar situation, but I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the whole ethos and principle of some cancer drug trials, especially those that include randomises placebos. If you have never heard of these, they are simply a process whereby a group of terminal cancer trial candidates are split into two groups; one who gets the trial drug, the other who gets a harmless substitute. Who gets what is decided by a computer and neither the patient nor the doctor knows who is getting what.
Now that sounds fine if you have the luxury of knowing you’re going to live for a few more years, but when your life expectancy is being measured in days, weeks and month, you can see how this could become a sore point…!
Anyway, here I am, my health is failing, the cancer is taking a greater hold on my precious life and I need something to give me hope, hope that a trial drug will slow, stop or better still, reverse the damage its done so far. The objective being, to live long enough to fulfil some outstanding personal goals, like becoming a grandad; walking my daughter down the isle and taking my wife to see the Chinese Terracotta Soldiers.
So I’ve recently looked around, found some specific trials aimed at my cancer type and better still they are new Immunotherapy type trials, not ones that include chemo as part of the treatment. The downside is that these trials are running outside of my local area and will require several hours travelling each way to get the treatment, if I’m lucky enough to be selected. Thank god the lighter nights are coming in fast.
Yes, selected, it’s not as simple as rocking up to the hospital where it’s running and saying ‘here I am your next Guinea pig’ come stuff me full of your drugs. Hell no… first of all you have to have all of your medical history laid bare and pawed over with fine tooth comb. Any past treatments that may affect or interfere with the results of the new drug(s) and your out. Also, for most of these trial types they need to analyse the biopsies taken at the time of diagnosis (or take new ones), to see if the genetic defects associated with your cancer are what they are targeting, etc… So a shit load of hoops to jump through even before you can be considered.
So, here I am, medical history laid bare for all in charge of these trials to scrutinise and paw over, waiting to see if I’m going to be one of the lucky ones who get to risk their health and well-being on a new drug which may, or may not extend my life. Watch this space, I’ll hopefully have an update in a week or two…!