It is thanks to a pioneering research trial that South Yorkshire mum and breast cancer battler Kathryn Frost will be able to attend her son’s wedding.
The mum-of-two had been fighting breast cancer for two years when she discovered her tumour was starting to grow as it became resistant to the conventional treatment drugs.
When she was offered the chance to be part of a clinical trial testing TDM-1 – a new combination of a chemotherapy drug and common breast cancer treatment Herceptin – she jumped at the chance.
Fast-forward 12 weeks, and Kathryn’s tumour had shrunk so much it was no longer visible on scans.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging journey to reach the point where I am now,” said Kathryn, of Kiveton Park, Rotherham.
“I’ve gone through a whole host of emotions, but the confidence I have in the staff and the specialist care provided by Weston Park Hospital has certainly played a huge part in my positive outlook.
“The opportunity to go on a clinical trial has undoubtedly meant that I can spend more valuable time with my family and furthermore, stand by my son’s side this month as he gets married.”
To coincide with International Clinical Trials Day tomorrow, Weston Park Hospital’s Cancer Charity is launching a campaign to ensure the research conducted at the hospital can continue to contribute to ground-breaking advances in cancer treatment – both here in Sheffield and worldwide.
The new campaign, called Take a Closer Look, invites supporters to discover more about the vital work undertaken at the hospital every day. The cancer charity supports a wide range of projects, with some researchers hunting for cell DNA which is the thickness of a millionth of a strand of hair.
Kathryn is still receiving treatment every three to four weeks but is excited about living life to the full after a turbulent few years. She is now encouraging others to consider the importance of clinical trials for cancer patients.
“It’s simple – the more cancer patients of today who get the opportunity to go on a trial, the more cancer patients of the future who will reap the benefits of our participation,” she said.
“Not only have I benefited directly from research done years ago for my initial treatment on Herceptin, I have played a part in research being conducted now so that more and more cancer patients can access a range of treatment options and increase their chance of survival.”
Cancer charity trustee and clinical oncologist, Prof Rob Coleman said: “The TDM-1 trial was for patients with a particular type of secondary breast cancer that had spread further despite treatment with standard chemotherapy and Herceptin.
“The positive results for this trial have enabled the drug to be available to more patients on the NHS via the Cancer Drugs Fund.
“Kathryn’s current situation is incredibly positive – her disease appears to have completely disappeared.”
The funds which go to the cancer charity for the research campaign will enable studies to continue in Weston Park into various cancer types. The charity will also continue supporting the hospital’s Cancer Clinical Trials Centre, which enables specialist researchers to concentrate on projects which ultimately shape the next generation of cancer treatments.
Charity fundraising manager Helen Gentle said: “The more people that support this campaign, the closer we come to finding the answers we are all so desperately looking for.
“We hope that people across the region will recognise the real importance of funding this essential work for the benefit of patients both now and in the future.”