From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

March 31, 2020

Rarely is the treatment of cancer simple. Sometimes the standard treatment can cause undesirable side effects making them impractical for patients with other medical conditions. In these cases, OHC’s team of leading experts work together to give patients hope by finding a treatment that will attack their cancer without the difficult side effects. And many of these treatments are only available through nationally-recognized clinical trials programs like OHC’s. So, how does someone decide whether or not to participate in a clinical trial?

Joseph Shea is a patient at OHC who is being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). At one point during his care, his OHC doctor recommended he participate in a clinical trial for a new treatment for CLL that would not affect his atrial fibrillation. Joe’s wife, Geneva, explains how, with help from OHC, they learned about clinical trials and why they decided to participate.

Were you aware of clinical trials prior to being referred to OHC?
Geneva: My husband and I knew nothing about clinical trials. We honestly didn’t even know there was such a thing.

How did you learn about them?
Geneva: From Dr. Paula Weisenberger at OHC’s Hamilton office. Joe was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and was referred to Dr. Paula for treatment. She monitored his blood work and for a while it was okay. Then in December, his counts changed, and he needed treatment. Dr. Paula explained that the drug they would normally prescribe could cause atrial fibrillation (AFib). (Atrial fibrillation is an irregular, often rapid heartbeat that that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.)

Since Dr. Paula knew Joe’s complete history, including his AFib, she knew he couldn’t take that drug. She quickly assessed the situation and was able to offer an alternative for Joe.

Dr. Paula explained in detail about a new drug that didn’t cause AFib. She said it had already been through a lot of testing and OHC had a clinical trial to evaluate it further to “get it to the next level.” She thought Joe would meet the criteria to enroll in the trial and worked with her colleagues to get Joe evaluated immediately. Joe was evaluated by another OHC expert, Dr. Jim Essell, who provided great news: Joe qualified. So, we went to OHC’s office in Kenwood to talk with them about it.

Was it an easy decision to enroll in the trial?
Geneva: Yes. It was a no-brainer.

Why is that?
Geneva: Because everyone at OHC explained everything to us. And I mean everything. First Dr. Paula told us about the new drug and that it was available because of OHC’s clinical trials program. Then we met with Dr. Jim Essell, Megan Hanson and Bethanie Edwards at OHC’s Kenwood office. They told us step-by-step what would happen, what they would be doing, what you are expected to do, and how it’s all monitored and recorded. They told us how it would be administered: through an IV four times a week for the first week, then once a week for two months, then monthly as a pill. They explained everything and they made sure we understood everything, so it was a no-brainer for Joe to enroll.

Was having all the information the key factor in helping you decide?
Geneva: It also helped that everyone at OHC is so nice and so helpful. The team at OHC Kenwood – Dr. Essell, Megan, Bethanie, the nurses who do the IVs – you couldn’t ask for better people. And Joe loves Dr. Paula. She makes you feel like you’re part of her family. Everyone at OHC does. It’s important to get the best, most personalized treatment and understand all about it, but it’s even better when everyone is so nice and treats you like family like they do at OHC.

What would you tell someone else who is considering participation in a clinical trial?
Geneva: First, I would tell them to pick the right team. It could save your life. We were fortunate having Dr. Paula because she took time to get to know Joe and his complete medical history, not just his cancer history. She knew the standard treatment would have been dangerous for him, so she searched for another treatment. Again, we were lucky to have chosen OHC because they have clinical trials with new treatments. And Dr. Paula knew about this new drug for Joe because the doctors and staff communicate with one another about what’s new, promising and available.

Second, choose a group of doctors who offer clinical trials and then ask if there is a trial available for you. This is another treatment option that could help. The drug that my husband is getting in the trial is working. All of his blood work is back to normal.

Third, be opened-minded. Learn everything you can about the trial and then decide. These drugs have been through many tests before they give it to you, so don’t be afraid.

Learn how the leading experts at OHC work together to help you or your loved one fight your cancer, or request a second opinion, at or call 1-800-710-4674.

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