NHRMC Zimmer Cancer Center Welcomes Triathalon Heroes

October 19, 2012
On Friday October 19, 2012 from 9:30–11:30 a.m. NHRMC welcomed PPD Beach2Battleship triathletes in the lobby of the Zimmer Cancer Center. The PPD Heroes Team, clinical research trial participants and medical specialists who are taking part in the triathlon, were on hand to share encouragement and support with patients and Zimmer Cancer Center staff in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of clinical trials.

Patients, families and Zimmer Cancer Center staff signed jerseys with messages of encouragement for the athletes, who participate in relays at the event or take on the ½ Iron Distance. Athletes shared personal stories of how clinical research trials have saved their lives and offered them hope for a brighter future.

Emily Schaller, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at 18 months old, began participating in clinical trials in her early teens. Told she might not live long enough to graduate high school, Emily, now 30, is living proof of the positive impact of clinical trials. Says Emily, “clinical trials are the reason I’m alive today.” Emily recently finished a trial for a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and within four days of starting the phase III trial for the therapy knew, “something huge was happening. My CF symptoms . . . just about disappeared.”

Mary Kreis, diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 when she was 23 weeks pregnant, attributes the current state of her health and the health of her child to clinical research trials. “Without clinical trials, my cancer may have been missed. My oncologist told me that if clinical trials had not been conducted in relation to sentinel lymph node surgeries prior to my procedure, they might not have been able to confidently perform the surgery on a pregnant woman.” Mary named her healthy baby girl Viva, in honor of living life to the fullest.

Katie McConville Reisinger, born with cystic fibrosis, has participated in five clinical trials, and says, “I participate in clinical research studies so that the next generation of people with cystic fibrosis can have additional therapies available to them.” Katie started running in middle school and continues to participate in sports as a way to stay healthy. Katie will be taking on the 13.1 mile run in Saturday’s race.

Barbara Lyon, a NHRMC volunteer who was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer in March 2009 was also on hand to visit with the athletes. Barbara participated in a clinical trial at NHRMC’s Zimmer Cancer Center in 2009. Her last treatment date was March 2010; she is currently in remission and doing well. Barbara’s positive experience with the clinical trial inspired her to begin volunteering in the chemo lab every Friday, where she helps patients going through the same treatment process she went through.
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ll of the Heroes shared how important it was for them to be able to help others with serious illnesses change their lives for the better.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center has participated in approximately 150 clinical trials over the last 14 years. The physicians and staff at Zimmer Cancer Center currently have over 200 patients in 32 trials; 13 of these are still open. Clinical research is critical in order to find the most effective treatments, and ultimately, to find a cure for cancer.

The PPD Heroes team is proof of the positive impact of clinical trials, serving as a reminder to others that a serious illness need not prevent one from participating in sporting events. NHRMC’s Zimmer Cancer Center is proud to partner with PPD to help spread the word about the important role clinical trials play in the fight against cancer and other illnesses.