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Tanla’s Story – Bladder Cancer and a Clinical Trial

Before cancer, Tanla R. of Houston, TX was enveloped in the corporate world. A logistics contract manager for Shell Oil, she worked long hours and traveled around the globe.  All that came to a halt when her health declined rapidly in 2016.

Tanla - Black woman smiling in a pink sweater

Tanla was having symptoms she thought might be related to her menstrual cycle. Doctors at MD Anderson would soon discover it was a tumor the size of a grapefruit in her bladder. They diagnosed her with stage 4 bladder cancer, immediately got her into surgery and started treatment. Following six rounds of chemotherapy and reconstruction, Tanla was a success story.  She completed an annual cancer charity walk and was feeling good. Then suddenly, three months later she took a turn for the worse. Her weight was dropping, she became so weak she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t eat, and she ultimately lost her kidney. The cancer was back with a vengeance.

Tanla’s doctors put her into rehab while they looked for answers. They told her it was time to call in hospice and to make herself comfortable; there was nothing more they could do.  Then came a call from another doctor who suggested a clinical trial – and she was eligible.  

Fortunately, the trial worked. Tanla felt better and was seeing results. But one year into treatment something went wrong – it suddenly stopped working and she needed another option – and quickly. Fortunately, doctors found a second clinical trial for which she was eligible.

Participating in the trials meant weekly visits to MD Anderson. Tanla lives in Houston, 30 minutes away and the travel expenses were becoming a source of major stress since she no longer had an income. The bills for gas and parking for the weekly trips were adding up quickly.

“I have been traveling to MD Anderson once a week now for 3 years,” Tanla says, “it’s a struggle for me financially to constantly fill up my tank and pay to park at the hospital. So, I went to my caseworker for help and thankfully she told me about Lazarex Cancer Foundation – that changed everything.”

Tanla has now been on the second clinical trial for two years and while there are some side effects, overall, she’s doing well. She’s looking ahead to the future now and getting back to traveling the world one day.

Tanla standing in the desert

“Costa Rica, Greece, Dubai – those are my first choices. I love the atmosphere, the beaches, the coffee,” and she says she’s thankful to Lazarex for helping her even SEE a future, “I can tell you that without Lazarex, I wouldn’t be here – I can’t work right now, so they’re a lifeline for me. As long as I’m alive, I will always make it a point to tell people about Lazarex.”