My name is Rosemary Rathbun; I am a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I have been a patient of Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada since July 2009 and thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff, I can proudly say that I am cancer free.
In July 2009, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue which later spread to my neck and breast. I endured months of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Since my cancer was so severe, the treatment process caused several side effects. Not only did the chemotherapy make me very sick with nausea, the radiation burnt my throat. For eight months, all I could tolerate was Ensure.
Unfortunately, after completing my treatment, my cancer showed no signs of improvement. My doctor gave me the option to get my affairs in order and consult with hospice, or participate in a “first-in-human” clinical trial of an antibody drug. I will never forget that day. It’s an overwhelming feeling being told your life is over, but I knew that I wanted to try the experimental drug. If the trial didn’t work for me, I knew that by participating, I would be helping somebody else in the future so I had to do it.
I was referred to Dr. Fadi Braiteh and enrolled on the clinical trial in early 2012. The results came so fast. I went for a few treatments and the cancer just left me. I was told that the clinical trial was making my immune system stronger to attack the cancer. I couldn’t believe it!
Not only did I see quick results from this trial, I didn’t get any side effects from the treatment, unlike the standard chemotherapy and radiation treatment I received before. Now, I feel great and have been cancer free for more than a year.
I owe my life to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada and I would encourage all patients to consider a clinical trial if it is an option for them. Any kind of cancer is hard for patients to deal with, but luckily I found something that worked for me and now I have hope. When you’re a cancer patient, hope is all you’ve got.