Avera Medical Minute: The importance of cancer clinical trials

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Across the Avera footprint, there are more than 100 clinical trials for patients diagnosed with cancer.

These trials are vital in providing cancer researchers with data as they work to develop future therapies. Elaine Ulmer participated in a clinical trial as a part of her cancer treatment.

Ulmer’s life was turned on its head in 2019 when she received a diagnosis of stage 4 cervical cancer.

“He said, ‘What would you have done if I told you, you had 5 percent of living and in 30 days you’d be dead?’ I said, ‘I don’t know,’ I don’t know what I would have said, but here I am.”

She says she’s here now because of the opportunities provided to her through a clinical trial.

“He told me I was going to be on a study right away. I didn’t even understand what it was right away, I had to sign all this stuff. I was so sick I didn’t even know what I was signing,” she said.

Her oncologist, Dr. Luis Rojas, explains how important clinical trials are.

“So this is how we, number one, forward the field, number two, how we find new treatments and how we make life better for our patients,” he said.

Three years after her diagnosis, Elaine says her life is pretty good right now.

“I feel fine, I feel l fine. I can do my stuff at home, I love gardening, I love to ride bike, we’ve got a 4x4 and I’m just running around all over,” she said.

Elaine is still taking medication, one pill a day. But compared to the six hours of chemo treatment she had to receive every three weeks, that one pill, is easy.

She also has the assurance that through her participation in the trial, she’s making an impact by providing cancer researchers with incredible data as they work to develop future therapies.

“I am helping so many people and I like that, and by the grace of God, that’s who helped me.”

Elaine is a testament to how impactful clinical trials can be for a patient and for the medical community as a whole.

“In the field of cancer in the past 5 years, there has been an explosion of new developments, new medications, new therapies, people are living longer with cancer, getting more success of treating effectively some cancers and it’s all because of clinical trials,” said Dr. Rojas.

More information on oncology and clinical trials can be found at www.Avera.org/MedicalMinute.

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