Calling all guinea pigs: My experience during a cancer clinical trial


Carrie Corey

Have you ever participated in a clinical trial? They're VITAL to getting life-saving drugs on the market, but being a guinea pig is easier said than done.

As I mentioned in my last blog (Searching for NED), my most recent PET scan showed my breast cancer had progressed despite the medications I was taking. Even though my doctors recommended chemotherapy, I enrolled in a phase 3 clinical trial for the hot new PARP-inhibitor drug, BMN-673.

Taking a clinical trial drug expands the very finite list of cancer drugs available to me NOW, and it can also help increase options for patients like me in the future (stage 4, ER-positive, BRCA genetic mutation).

With the start of each new drug regimen, we pray for as much time as possible before progressing on that drug. Because once my cancer outsmarts the medication I am taking – and we know that it will – I have to cross that drug off my list and find a new one. When that happens, I try to ignore the little voice in my head that asks, "How many drugs are left?" To be honest – I don't know, and I don't want to. Because the louder, more optimistic voice keeps yelling, "I don't need a long list of drugs... I just need ONE good one."

I need one good drug that my cancer can't outsmart. With 2:1 odds of receiving the trial drug, I ended up in the control group. Ironically, I'm receiving the same chemotherapy my doctors recommended in the first place, but so far, eribulin seems to be a "good" chemo with manageable side effects. My biggest physical complaint is a nagging pain in my lower back, but hopefully next week's scan will prove the pain to be a result of picking up 32-pound Henry.

I'll admit, at first I was angry that I wasn't getting the trial drug, but I made peace with it by looking at the bigger picture. I need to do more than just wait for drugs to come down the pipeline, and since I don't have millions to donate to research, I'm offering up my services as a guinea pig. Even if I am in the control group, I'm helping get the job done.With any luck, PARP-inhibitor BMN-673 will be a wonder drug that hits the FDA fast-track.

I'm very optimistic to see if the FDA's new breakthrough program is actually going to help us get drugs to market faster, because the new PARP inhibitors definitely qualify as a breakthrough. Now let's just cross our fingers and pray the drug will work some magic. And maybe cross some toes too....In the meantime, summer has officially arrived here in Dallas!

During the week, I'm juggling babysitters and appointments at the cancer center, but we enjoy our weekends as a family in the backyard. Most Saturdays we fire up the grill, turn on the sprinklers and let Henry run his lawn mower through the mud until he's tired enough to nap!

Carrie Corey was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 29 and with a stage 4 recurrence in 2012 at the age of 31. She is a wife and new mom living in Dallas, and will be reporting frequently on her cancer experiences.

Related Videos
Yuliya P.L Linhares, MD, and Josie Montegaard, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, experts on CLL
Yuliya P.L Linhares, MD, and Josie Montegaard, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, experts on CLL
Image of Dr. Jorge Cortes; a man with short dark hair wearing a suit.
Image of a man with brown hair.
Image of a woman with short brown hair and glasses.
Image of a woman with short brown hair and glasses.
Image of a man with brown hair and a suit and tie.
Image of a woman with brown bobbed hair with glasses.
Yuliya P.L Linhares, MD, and Josie Montegaard, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, experts on CLL
Related Content