Nicola took part in a clinical trial after it was recommended by her oncologist. She has shared her experience with us.
In November 2016 at the age of 30, following a laparotomy for removal of a suspected ovarian cyst, I was diagnosed with stage IIIC high grade endometrioid ovarian cancer. Now a year, two surgeries and six rounds of chemotherapy later, I am back at work - and my scans show no evidence of disease.
I was treated at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on the Wirral, and was part of the ICON8B clinical trial. I hadn’t considered taking part in a clinical trial until I was told of my eligibility for the trial during my first oncology appointment, the only issue was whether there would be enough time before treatment was scheduled for me to be enrolled. Although I’d not given clinical trials any thought before, once I was told it was a possibility, I wanted it more than anything.
I was given an appointment with a nurse from the trials team, Michelle, who explained the details of how the trial worked and what would be involved. She explained that there would be three different strands of the trial, how the treatment differed slightly in each strand, and how my allocation to a certain strand would be randomised by a computer.
I attended hospital every Monday from December until February when I had an eight week break for surgery before resuming weekly treatment until June. At the beginning of every round (every three weeks) I would complete a 'quality of life' questionnaire. This included questions about my overall wellbeing - had I felt sick after the previous treatment? Had my normal routine had been disrupted? I was also asked to score my quality of life that week on a scale of 1 -100. The questionnaire was a good distraction while I was having treatment.
As well as weekly appointments and blood tests I had additional CT scans to provide data for the trial. Despite the ‘scanxiety’ (anxiety before a scan result), I found these additional scans reassuring - it’s comforting to know that someone is still keeping an eye on you.
Throughout my treatment I have been very close to my trials team. Michelle, Gail and Becky have all been at the end of a phone whenever I’ve had a wobble or a query, and they have even rearranged checkup appointments to fit around work now that I am back full time. Through taking part in the trial I feel like I have been able to give something back, which may help women with a similar diagnosis to me in the future. It helps me take a positive from my experience.
For anyone considering whether to take part in a trial, I’d say go for it! For me it was a no-brainer - you may benefit and you will certainly help future generations of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Find out more
- For trials available to you check out the Ovarian Cancer Clinical Trials Information Centre.
- Donate to fund more research to develop new treatments for ovarian cancer.