Ashley Kulp was 29 weeks pregnant with her first child when she was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive cervical cancer called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix. Ashley needed a hysterectomy and doctors urged her to start chemo and radiation immediately. Her cancer was stage 4; doctors told her she had less than a 20 percent chance of surviving past two years.
Ashley and her husband James opted to have a C-section to try to save her life and the life of her unborn son. After welcoming Kayden into the world, Ashley started chemo and radiation. It worked. Ashley was cancer free.
But months later, her cancer would return. When it did, doctors said she had six months at best. Ashley started investigating her options. “I did a lot of genetic testing on my tumor and hours of research,” she recalls. “I found a clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital that was geared to my genetic mutation, but it wasn’t for my type of cancer.”
Doctors weren’t sure the trial would work for her, giving it about a 10% chance of success. Ashley was willing to try anyway. The challenge was the trial required her to travel from her home in Southern Pennsylvania to Boston once a month and stay for a few days. Travel costs quickly mounted to at least one thousand dollars a trip. It was an expense they couldn’t easily afford. Fortunately, a doctor referred Ashley and James to Lazarex Cancer Foundation and the travel reimbursements allowed her to stay the course. “We sold our house and even our cars so we could afford to fly to Boston for the clinical trial,” Ashley said. “The reimbursements have reduced our stress incredibly.”
Ashley started on the clinical trial in 2016 and by the Fall of 2018, doctors found no sign of cancer. Today Ashley is still cancer free! However, in order to keep her cancer at bay, doctors say she must stay on the clinical trial. So, she continues her monthly trips to Boston and Lazarex continues to support her with travel reimbursements.
“I had no choice but to travel to my clinical trial,” Ashley said “but the costs would have been impossible to bear. The help from Lazarex has been huge! If I could hug everyone at Lazarex, I would. They’ve helped me so much and I’m so grateful.”
Today, Ashley is feeling well. She’s able to home school her son, and, she says, thanks to Lazarex, she hasn’t blown through the family savings.
“Reimbursing patients who are in clinical trials is so important. The costs to participate are too heavy a burden for so many patients.”