Melanoma Survivors Speak: How Clinical Trials Saved My Life

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Topics include: Patient Stories

T.J. Sharpe and Martha Bishop, both melanoma survivors and patient advocates, discuss the importance of persevering through clinical trials and treatment options. Through their stories it is evident that the right treatment is not always the first one given. There are many plan B options available in standard care and in trials. T.J. and Martha, now melanoma survivors, are pleased to be able to discuss their paths to remission and health.

This in-person town meeting was sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through educational grants from Genentech and Novartis. It was produced in partnership with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Melanoma Research Alliance.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:    

Okay. Well, fortunately, there are numerous clinical trials that are accelerating.  So let’s talk about trials for a minute, T.J.

So you were in one trial that didn’t work for you, right?

T.J. Sharpe:          

Correct.

Andrew Schorr:                  

And you were in another trial that worked on some of the tumors but not all, right? 

T.J. Sharpe:          

The first onecthat was the first one.

Andrew Schorr:                  

And the second one didn’t work. 

T.J. Sharpe:          

No, I’m on the second one. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

And that is working.

T.J. Sharpe:          

It is working, yes.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Okay. So you were discouraged after the first one, but you kept moving.

T.J. Sharpe:          

The first one, it took a while to find, and it took a while to get on it. And the skin, at the end, showed progression of disease—progression being bad.  And the doctor immediately said we need to look for Plan B. And we didn’t look for Plan B of standard of care. We said what else is out there in the trial world that would potentially give us a good response? And we moved right into the Clinical Trial B within six weeks.  

Andrew Schorr:                  

Right. And you’ve been in that trial how long?

T.J. Sharpe:          

Almost two years.

Andrew Schorr:                  

And you’re sitting here.

T.J. Sharpe:          

I’m sitting here, and I feel really healthy.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Okay, yay. Doing yoga in the hotel room.  And, Martha, you, too, for you, trials didn’t always work out. Tell us about successes and where you are now.

Martha Bishop:

When I was stage III, I did try a vaccine trial. And it was versus a placebo, so I did not know if I was getting the drug. And so I did progress on it. But who knows? I may have been getting the placebo. And then I did a number of drugs, and now I’m on a clinical trial that I am successfully on.

Andrew Schorr:                  

It’s working. And how long has that been?

Martha Bishop:

It will be two years next month. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

Okay. And just to understand, so how often do you have treatment?

Martha Bishop:

I have treatment every four weeks. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

And is that an infusion?

Martha Bishop:

It’s an infusion.

Andrew Schorr:                  

And you, too. You have an infusion how often? 

T.J. Sharpe:          

Every three weeks.

Andrew Schorr:                  

Okay. But then you go about your life the rest of the time.

T.J. Sharpe:          

Yeah. Other than the infusion day and some checkups, it’s very benign.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on February 6, 2019