Pedro and Kathi met on the job. Pedro, an avid racquetball player, also loves to watch the San Francisco Giants and he loves to cook. His wife Kathi said she enjoyed being the recipient of his kitchen creations. Unfortunately, he can no longer whip up a meal these days… and playing racquetball is out of the question.
Pedro’s journey with cancer started in 2017. He was experiencing abdominal pain. Suspecting nothing serious, he saw his doctor who chalked it up to an ulcer. But the pain continued. He would eventually see multiple doctors and receive multiple diagnoses until finally, he went for a colonoscopy. The doctor who performed the colonoscopy called him immediately following the procedure. He had found a mass and wanted Pedro back in the office for testing.
It was cancer.
Pedro’s wife Kathi remembers the day they were told of the diagnosis. “I was in shock. We were both numb. We were scared and panicked. And then I went into fight mode.” What followed were several surgeries and six months of chemotherapy. But new nodules started showing up in Pedro’s lungs. The chemo wasn’t working as planned. Pedro needed abdominal surgery… he also needed a new treatment plan. That’s when a clinical trial was recommended.
Pedro lives in Redding, California, and was already traveling four hours away to UCSF for treatment. Joining a clinical trial would mean more travel and it would also mean a bigger financial burden. But being a part of that clinical trial was also a matter of life and death. “If he were forced to say no,” Kathi explains “he was likely to run out of options.” However, through a partner program with Lazarex Cancer Foundation called IMPACT (Improving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials), UCSF was able to offer reimbursements for the travel costs. And because of that, Pedro could say YES to the clinical trial opportunity.
Pedro had to be at UCSF every week. “Between gas, tolls, parking and hotel stays, the travel,” Kathi says, “has been outrageously expensive” – something they could not afford on their own. Pedro has not been able to work for a while because of his health. Sometimes he needs a hotel to sleep in because he’s so exhausted before driving back the next day. And Kathi can’t always go with him because she’s the only one working to support the two of them.
If it weren’t for Lazarex Cancer Foundation, Kathi says, they would not have been able to stay in the clinical trial. Or, she says, they’d be in deep credit card debt. “We already blew through savings just paying for the year and a half of healthcare. Pedro had complications early on and we had to pay for all the out-of-pocket expenses even though we have pretty decent insurance. Eventually, we’d have to give up.”
Pedro’s first trial didn’t work as hoped so doctors switched him to a second trial. The new treatment is showing positive results with some impact on two tumors. All the while, Lazarex has been there for the family. Kathi says throughout the clinical trial they have both felt supported by Lazarex. “It’s been awesome – it’s a wake-up call for me – I’m surprised that when I call Lazarex for something they know us, and they ask about us. It’s humbling.”
Today Pedro is doing ok. While he’s looking forward to one day playing racquetball again, in the meantime, he’s getting together with friends when he can, seeing movies and going out for walks with Kathi and their three dogs.