Cancer Research Trials Offer Hope for Patients and Physicians

Featuring Evan Naylor, M.D
Oncologist
Southern Ocean Medical Center

 

As the only system partner of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Meridian Health is committed to the improvement of patient outcomes through clinical research trials.

With these studies, participants are provided heightened involvement and control over their own treatment plans, access to new research treatments before they are widely available and the opportunity to help others by contributing to various fields of medical research.

Few examples illustrate the potential of Meridian’s clinical trials quite like the story of wife and mother-of-three Bridget M. Wallin.

After an annual mammogram revealed a cancerous lump in her right breast,  Bridget was referred to Debra Camal, M.D., Meridian Cancer Care Medical Director. After further tests revealed a lump in her left breast as well, Wallin knew her best option would be a double mastectomy, due her family’s history of breast cancer and her own history of fibrocystic lumps, which can make detection of breast cancer more difficult.

After undergoing a double mastectomy on September 17, 2012, Bridget was referred to Southern Ocean Medical oncologist Dr. Evan Naylor, M.D. for postsurgery care.

“For Bridget specifically, chemotherapy and radiation would reduce the risk of her cancer returning," Naylor said.

He added her course of treatment was determined "by the stage of cancer, size, involvement of lymph nodes and the characteristics of the cancer cells.”

Despite the challenges, Dr. Naylor says he was taken aback by Bridget’s remarkable determination to do "whatever it takes to beat the disease."

Dr. Naylor knew Bridget’s journey through treatment would not be easy, however. After her cancer spread to one of her lymph nodes, he decided a new trial drug might be the answer.

“Our cancer team meets weekly to discuss every case and, as a team, we thought Bridget would be a great candidate for the trial drug,” Dr. Naylor says. “Participants in clinical trials have the opportunity to play an active part in their health care while contributing to important medical research,” Dr. Naylor says.

Bridget agreed to participate in the yearlong trial and finished treatment in December 2013.

 “She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and did so with grace and dignity despite the bumps in the road that inevitably occur during this difficult time,” Naylor says.  “She enrolled in one of our national clinical trials to receive the latest chemotherapy treatments while contributing to our advancing knowledge of breast cancer.”

“She never stopped being an attentive mother, weaving in her children's hobbies with her doctor visits with remarkable ease," Naylor adds. “Bridget transformed an unfortunate diagnosis into an inspirational story of perseverance."