A dedicated nurse, Carolyn works tirelessly, helping patients receiving anesthesia feel more comfortable. Her work often takes her on the road, sometimes traveling from Florida to Oklahoma to fill in during nursing shortages. Carolyn admits her demanding schedule and dedication to her patients often overrode her own self-care. So, when her abdomen started swelling abnormally in 2016, she kept working.
“I did see a doctor, eventually, but the X-ray didn’t show anything. The labs wouldn’t come back for a while. I thought I was ok.”
About 6 months later she learned she wasn’t ok.
Having just moved, Carolyn tried desperately to get in with a new a doctor, but she was told there was no room on the schedule. Her condition deteriorated quickly.
Carolyn lost weight, was on a self-imposed liquid diet only and her legs were now swelling. Her husband demanded she go to the ER. The news was worse than she’d expected. A tumor. Cancer. Stage 4.
What made it even more difficult was hers is a rare cancer -- Primary Peritoneal cancer. Statistics show there are only 300-500 cases per year. Carolyn’s oncologist recommended surgery immediately and then found a clinical trial in which she takes a medicine called Tapimmune, “It’s a vaccine,” Carolyn says, “created from testing patients with ovarian cancer who have responded well and gone into remission.” The chemo is essentially “tagged” and told which cells to attack. “I could actually feel the chemo attacking my abdomen.” Doctors tell her it’s working.
The problem is the clinical trial is a 6 hour drive from home. And that’s just one way. The clinical trial sponsor will only pay for the vaccine and the lab tests. They require her to travel to the trial site every 28 days. She pays all gas and hotel expenses on her own.
With those costs piling up quickly, not to mention the thousands of dollars in co-pays and medical bills Carolyn was draining her bank account. She knew the advanced treatment was helping her, but the financial stress left her considering dropping out of the trial. That’s when she found out about Lazarex Cancer Foundation.
“I was stressing. I thought is this something I can continue to commit to… traveling every 28 days.. paying my copays, medical expenses.” Carolyn says, “Because of Lazarex, it made it much easier for me to say YES I’m willing to do this.”
“I think it’s awesome what Lazarex does. It makes me speechless to think there are people out there to help people stay in a trial like that. There are so many people in much worse shape than I am… I don’t see how people would be able to make that commitment to a trial. When I learned about Lazarex it helped make my decision a lot easier to participate.”