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Karin, Breast Cancer Trial Participant

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At the age of 57 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (60mm Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with 2/26 axillary nodes involved – ER++ and HER-2 positive) and underwent a mastectomy. My treatment was to follow the path of thousands of women around Australia – Chemotherapy, Herceptin, Radiotherapy and Hormonal Therapy.  At the time, I felt like Alice in Wonderland; I had fallen down the rabbit hole, but not into a magical world, but onto a personal journey of pain and, at on occasions, mental despair.  Always in the back of my mind was the question “Will it come back – wilI I make it”.It was a very emotional time with huge highs and extreme lows.  I met the most fantastic doctors/nurses/healthcare workers and amazing cancer patients all battling, and hoping, to survive.  Our support system through the WA State Health Care System and Cancer Council was wonderful.My Oncologist wondered whether I would like to participate in a 10 Year Clinical Trial called ALTTO (a study comparing Trastuzumab and Lapatinib (a new drug)).  To me it was an easy answer – yes, of course.  I would do anything to help both myself and other people in a similar condition.  The selection as to the type of treatment we would receive was quite random and I found myself in the control group.  The trial is still ongoing.We all know how terrible cancer is and I believe we should do our utmost to help find a cure.  The clinical trials will often improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of people with cancer and if a trial proves that a test or treatment is better than existing options, it may become the new standard care for patients in the future.So, in my opinion, if you are asked to join a clinical trial don’t hesitate to accept as your trial might make a huge difference and might even be someone’s life saver.