Clinical Trial Becomes a “Perfect” Opportunity
Clyde Perfect had always been healthy, or “extremely lucky” as he puts it. Then last year, this active 84-year-old started coughing.
“I had this cough, and it was especially bad when I ate,” explained Clyde, who, along with his family, have owned and operated Perfect North Slopes since 1981. “I went to my family doctor who sent me to a throat doctor. After some tests, he sent me to a lung doctor. She did a CT scan and found multiple tumors in my lungs, and then sent me to Dr. Suzanne Partridge, my OHC doctor.”
After a PET scan, Dr. Partridge confirmed that Clyde had stage 4 lung cancer.
“When I first heard I had cancer, well, I didn’t like it much. I just put myself in Dr. Partridge’s hands. And she got me the ‘miracle pill.’”
Dr. Partridge explained to Clyde that he had a mutant gene that causes lung cancer. That made sense to him because he never smoked. She also told Clyde about a clinical trial testing a medication – Clyde’s miracle pill – that targeted the mutant gene. LUN 15231 is a clinical trial testing a targeted therapy to a specific mutation, an ALK mutation that only exists in 4 percent of all lung cancer patients and usually non-smokers – just like Clyde.
“We detected this on foundation one testing, which is a molecular profiling test for cancer, to try to find what makes the cancer grow and hopefully lead to more personalized treatment based on what drives his particular cancer,” explained Suzanne M. Partridge, MD, OHC medical oncologist. “Previously the drug crizotinib had been used, but brigatinib is the next-generation medication for this mutation. The trial is comparing crizotnib vs. brigatinib to see if it is better.”
Clyde said within eight hours of starting the medication, he already felt different. So far, he has experienced no side effects and his oxygen level is back to where it should be.
“I was in bad shape at Christmas. I’d get out of breath putting my coat on,” said Clyde. “Then on December 20, I started on the ‘magic pill’ (brigatinib).” Clyde has since returned to his old self. He chops wood and is building a new farm fence.
“As far as the medication, my family thinks it’s perfect,” he said with a sly grin. “I recommend everyone participate in a clinical trial if they can. And I recommend everyone here at OHC. They’ve all been wonderful. They told me if this had happened six years ago, my only option would have been chemo. And now, because of their care and the trial, I get to take this pill. This magic pill.”
“I just hope it can help others,” added Clyde, “A lot of people ask me about the pill because they have a friend or an uncle who has lung cancer. That’s one reason why I’m doing this.”