Those are the words of Trevor Sauer. His story is just one example of how your continued support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation is delivering results to Alberta’s cancer patients faster.
If the statistics had held true, Trevor would have passed away in 2007. But doctors and research scientists at Alberta’s 17 cancer centres across the province prove every day that when the most brilliant medical minds in the world have the funding they need to discover treatment breakthroughs, statistics mean very little.
We focus on projects that have a real impact on real outcomes. Trevor Sauer was diagnosed with end-stage metastatic melanoma in 2006. Dr. Michael Smylie, Trevor’s oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute, told him that he had 6 months to live. Trevor was only 30 years old. He and his wife Melissa had gotten married just two months earlier. Now Melissa was preparing for Trevor to be gone.
Trevor tried chemotherapy, which did not work. And then, he was presented with the chance to participate in a clinical trial of a novel biologic drug called “ipilimumab.” The doctor warned that exposure to radiation and chemicals from the trial would probably cause infertility. In other words, regardless of the outcome, Trevor and Melissa would likely never have children.
It was a chance Trevor was more than grateful to take.
His cancer tumors began to shrink, and with continued treatment, his cancer disappeared. This breakthrough was only possible because donors like you stayed with us and continued to invest in research that lead scientists to transcribe a growing knowledge of cancer and immune systems to effective treatment.
And yet we have many more questions: Why do some people respond completely to ipilimumab and others not at all? What role do individual gene mutations have in cancer cells that are flourishing? What other cancers will respond to ipilimumab or to immunotherapy?
So our work continues. And I hope your commitment does, as well. Without it, we risk never finding the answers and we risk never achieving our vision of a cancer-free future. Sadly, melanoma rates have grown and are expected to affect one in 75 Canadians by 2015.
But we have made tremendous progress in our melanoma research, treatment and care.
“This is a cancer that often hits people at a younger age, with young families, and at the beginning of their careers,” Dr. Michael Smylie says. “And, up until five years ago, we had absolutely no effective treatment.”
He now has 10 patients who are cancer-free. Trevor Sauer is one of them. Miraculously, he and Melissa conceived a baby girl even though his treatments were supposed to leave him infertile. Sophia is now 5 years old.
Donors like you helped save Trevor. And now he has a daughter. Is there any greater reason to invest in the Alberta Cancer Foundation than the knowledge that your contribution will make all the difference in the world to Albertans like the Sauer family?