Marc had just left a successful career in media. He was at that crossroads when he was trying to figure out what was next… when life apparently had other plans for him.
Marc went to a doctor for a mysterious rash. That’s when his doctor also happened to check his PSA levels and found them to be high. A biopsy later revealed advanced cancer. “The cancer was spread out from my prostate to two of my lymph glands and to my hip. It was stage 4. But I wouldn’t have known. I wasn’t even fatigued.”
As an athlete, Marc always fought through pain. It wasn’t something that ever stopped him from doing what he wanted to do. He was a wrestler in his younger years, so he never saw this coming and was shocked when he heard doctors deliver the news. “They told me I was terminal,” Marc recalls, “I was 54 at the time.”
He started on chemotherapy immediately and that lasted for about 18 months. But various other health problems started to crop up. The bones in his neck started to deteriorate, doctors wondered if he was developing a heart problem, there were complications with his kidney. Ultimately, they stopped the chemo. He underwent surgery and then went on hormone therapy.
Marc had no health insurance whatsoever and finances were an issue all along. A few years into his battle, his doctors suggested a clinical trial. After complications with that trial, Marc switched to a second trial. With both, he was traveling from his home in Sausalito to UCSF once or twice a week. He was going in for scans, bloodwork, doctor appointments, and sometimes there were extra days of travel. Each time he would order a LYFT. Cost? $70 one way. “I don’t have a car,” said Marc, “I fall, I have whiteouts. It’s not safe for me to drive. I relied on friends as much as possible for transportation.” But the travel costs were enormous for what Marc could handle financially. “I was very concerned about how much it was costing me. It was bad.”
Not long into his travel, as bills began to pile up, one of his oncology team members referred Marc to Lazarex Cancer Foundation. He was soon able to get reimbursement for the travel to and from his clinical trial. “It was a major relief – one less strain I needed to worry about.”
Marc is thankful to Lazarex for the help which allowed him to remain in the trial as long as his body could handle it. “It was truly a lifesaver,” he said.
While Marc is no longer in the trial today, he is actively looking for another one. Without the help from Lazarex, he says he would have had to drop out much sooner than he did. And, as a Black man, Marc says he is very proud of having taken part in clinical research and contributing to the diversity that clinical trial sponsors are seeking so they can develop new and effective therapies for all patients. He encourages more people of diverse backgrounds to explore clinical trials if they’re eligible.