July 23, 2014
Spending as much time as possible with her three young grandchildren is one of Darlene (Cookie) Jones’ greatest passions. So when breast cancer came along and threatened to take it all away, not just once, but twice, Cookie knew each time she had no choice but to fight.
“Either you fight and live for as long as you can, or you give up,” she says. “And I wasn’t giving up.”
Cookie, 55, a Cincinnatian born and raised, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2006. After a mastectomy and aggressive treatment, she thought she had won the battle. Then, in February of this year, she learned the worst wasn’t over. Her cancer has returned – this time it is in her lungs. It is a disappointing diagnosis, but Darlene knows she has to stay positive.
“I tell myself, you’ve still got a lot of people to harass and you’re not going anywhere,” she laughs.
Cookie is fighting the disease with trial drugs at OHC, the tri-state’s largest independent oncology clinical trial provider for adults. It’s where Cookie and her husband of 27 years, Paul, first met Dr. David Waterhouse, a medical oncologist and chief of OHC’s Clinical Research Department.
“He’s one of the best guys in the word,” Paul says. “He keeps you lifted up. I remember feeling comfort just meeting with him.”
At OHC, doctors and researchers are committed to finding new and improved ways to treat and cure patients like Cookie through clinical trials. When Dr. Waterhouse told Cookie about the benefits of this research, she did not hesitate to participate.
“I think it is important to have patients you can look at, develop new medicines, and treat cancer better so people like myself can live longer,” she explains.
Clinical trials include investigational drugs, diagnostic tests, and preventative measures. It is important work that is making a tremendous difference in lives around the world. With each trial at OHC, researchers have the opportunity to offer better care for life-threatening and chronic diseases.
Cookie understands some patients may be hesitant or have questions, but she encourages everyone to learn more about the opportunities.
“We trust Dr. Waterhouse and if he even mentions a research study, there has to be some hope in it.”
When a new treatment option is shown to be successful, patients who are participating in the clinical trial are among the first to benefit. While there is no guarantee that any treatment will be successful, clinical trials have been proven to offer some of the most effective cancer treatments available today.
For Cookie, her most recent trial is showing encouraging results. After eight weeks on the trial drug, her cancer has been reduced by 20 percent and she is seeing major changes in her life.
“If it keeps making me feel like I’m feeling now, I could take it for a lifetime.”
Before the drugs, she became exhausted easily. Even simple trips to the grocery store were difficult. She’d catch herself leaning against the grocery cart, unable to continue. But these days, she’s feeling like her old self again. In fact, Cookie’s boss recently told her she’s caught her “bouncing and smiling” again.
“I am naturally a fast-moving person and sometimes I say to myself, ‘Oh you have to slow down.’ And then I remember I don’t have to slow down now. I feel better.”
Cookie hopes others consider the benefits of participating in a clinical trial. She adds, “If you don’t have research, you can’t find cures.”
Cookie calls the decision to seek help at OHC one of the best choices she’s ever made. She believes the personal attention a patient receives at OHC is unmatched. She remembers one day in particular when the uncertainty of cancer was mounting and a nurse at OHC stepped in to help comfort her fears.
“She recognized I wasn’t my same bubbly self and she sat with me for almost two hours in order to make my experience a great experience and make me feel like somebody really cared. I wasn’t just one patient there. I was important to her.”
With support like that from OHC, Cookie and her husband feel like they’ve truly won.
“She was ready to go and fight the battle and she has fought the battle,” Paul says. “I’m thankful for her good health.”
Cookie’s family and friends mark the victories yearly with a Pink Party where everything is decorated in the signature color of breast cancer awareness. It’s a reminder that she is still a wife, mom, grandmother, and a survivor. Cookie thanks OHC for helping her fight the good fight.
“Everything is going to be okay,” she says. “I’m still here.”
Download a list of current and upcoming clinical trials. Before you enroll in a clinical trial, talk to your physician or nurse navigator. They can tell you about studies that match your situation, as well as any risks and benefits.Comments (0)