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Janice's Cancer Journey 

Janice, age 60 from Goodlettsville, Tenn., has had reoccurring ovarian cancer since 2011. Although her cancer journey has been long, she’s proud that she was a part of a clinical trial that ultimately led to the approval of a new ovarian cancer drug. The drug has helped thousands of women in Janice’s shoes. As a maintenance therapy, the drug cannot cure Janice’s cancer, but it has helped her to maintain a good quality of life over the last four and a half years.

Janice was diagnosed with stage IIIB ovarian cancer in 2011, after she noticed a mass at the top of her hip bone when she would sit down. Her daughter insisted she go to the emergency department, where the doctor simply said, “Do you have your affairs in order? This looks like cancer.”

Upon diagnosis, Janice had a three pound tumor removed from her ovary and had a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy, cervix removal and partial bladder removal at TriStar Centennial’s Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute in Nashville, TN. After her surgery, she completed chemotherapy with a clinical trial through Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Tennessee Oncology. And, after more than two years of fighting, she entered remission.

Unfortunately, Janice’s cancer came back in early 2014. She did four additional rounds of chemotherapy and entered a new clinical trial with Erika P. Hamilton, MD, Director of the Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Program at Sarah Cannon. The new clinical trial tested a PARP inhibitor, which helps to prevent the growth and repair of cancer cells. It is a drug that Janice continues to be on today and has kept her cancer from growing.

“Despite our best standard treatments, many patients’ ovarian cancer will come back at some point.  One of the biggest emphases in ovarian cancer research is figuring out a “maintenance” strategy, where we can use other drugs to keep the cancer at bay and spare women from having to go back on chemotherapy – ultimately even converting some of these women to a cure.  Utilizing PARP inhibitors as treatment options are a great example of this approach,” said Dr. Hamilton.  

“I’m thankful for Dr. Hamilton and the opportunity to be on this trial. She’s been wonderful and I’m so dedicated to fighting this cancer. I haven’t missed a single appointment in more than four years and I’ve learned to manage the side effects like fatigue and GI distress. I was on the clinical trial for more than three years when the drug got approved. I’m so proud to be a part of something that will help women now and in future generations. Can you even imagine how many women this drug will help? I’m so proud to be a part of that!”

When Janice’s cancer reoccurred, she was given approximately 18 months to live—but thankfully, that prognosis changed. By participating in a clinical trial, Janice’s path continues to be cancer free four years and counting…

“I’m thankful for Dr. Hamilton and the opportunity to be on this trial. She’s been wonderful and I’m so dedicated to fighting this cancer.”