Thursday, September 23, 2010
This article in the New York Times, New Drugs Stir Debate on Rules of Clinical Trials, brings to mind the brutal anguish that Cody and I experienced waiting to hear if I would receive the trial drug in my clinical trial. I was literally ringing my hands in the waiting room. Another patient noticed my obvious distress and tried to calm my nerves by telling me that she "eats a bucket of chicken" on the way home to New Orleans after chemo. On our way back to Austin I would let Cody know I was okay by asking him to stop for a bucket of chicken at Williams Chicken, just off of 290 in Prairie View, on our drive home from chemo. Hearing that I had been randomized to receive the drug, one that could help save my life, was the best news that I could have possibly received at that time. I didn't think of all the people who would hear that they had not been randomized to receive the trial drug, this article really drives that point home. At what point do we, as society, accept a certain amount of collateral damage in our "war" against disease? I'm not sure of the answer, but I do know that everyone should have access to treatment and drugs that could save their lives. I also know that as a patient I wanted verifiable studies to pour over and aid me in my decision making. Another patient that I spoke with a couple of times in the waiting room had a friend with my exact diagnosis, in the same clinical trial, and she didn't get the drug. Her tumor grew to over 6 centimeters in 3 weeks, and she was immediately pulled off of the trial and put on F.E.C. I never saw her again, and wonder if she survived. I hope so. I know that participating in a clinical trial was the right thing for me to do, and hopefully my days as a guinea pig will help save another. Would I feel the same if I had been randomized to the control group? Especially if the outcome had not gone as well? Maybe on our next trip to Houston I'll stop for a bucket of chicken.