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My Story: Clinical Trials

Posted by: Information & support 26 February 2016

Dawn MerrimanI was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer in late 2012 and have been on the ESPAC 4 trial* since 2013.

It was my particular type of tumour (ampullary) that qualified me as a potential trial patient as it was a rare type and volunteers were needed. My surgeon discussed it with me before I had the Whipple operation and I agreed without hesitation.

I knew very little about pancreatic cancer before I was diagnosed, even less about the variations of tumour types and it was the general ignorance surrounding the disease, (including my own), that compelled me to act.

I have been on the trial now for nearly three years, another two to go. Interestingly, the nearer I get to the end of it, the more I think of the poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer. That was the main reason I took part in the trial as although it may not help me personally, I hope it will help other patients and their loved ones in the future.

One of the positives of being part of this clinical trial is that I have regular consultations with my oncologist, who is truly wonderful. The three monthly blood tests and CT scans have now become routine but it can be very stressful for me and my family because it brings the focus back to this unpredictable disease.

We have to beat this silent killer and the only way we can do this is to expose it through clinical trials and early detection and if I can help to do this in any way, to save just one life, would be reward in itself.

Dawn Merriman

Do you have personal experience of clinical trials?

We know how important it is to have access to information about clinical trials and their benefits, so you can feel supported and make informed choices about your treatment. The nurses on our Support Line can provide practical information about clinical trials as well as help you to prepare questions to ask your clinician.

If you would like to speak to a nurse, call them on freephone 0808 801 0707. As Dawn stresses, clinical trials are necessary to extend knowledge and improve current treatment and care, now and for future patients. At Pancreatic Cancer UK we are developing our information about clinical trials that explore better treatments, improve the management of side effects and ways to diagnose pancreatic cancer. If you can help by sharing your experience, please email publications@pancreaticcancer.org.uk or contact Marcella on: 0203 0054 319.

Thank you

*The ESPAC 4 trial looks at whether adding an additional drug, capecitabine, to gemcitabine can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment