Glimmer of Hope: How a Clinical Trial Saved Chis Brochu’s Life

Meet Chris Brochu, a B.C resident, outdoor enthusiast, avid snowboarder, and clinical trial participant.

In May of 2015, Chris Brochu felt abnormally short of breath while on a hike with his dog. Following a spate of medical tests, and 10 days spent in the hospital, Chris was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. Melanoma from years prior had spread into his lungs.

“It was extremely devastating for [myself] and my family at the young age of 33 years old to be faced with stage 4 metastatic melanoma as its prognosis is not so good and I was quite ill.”

Chris was treated in B.C with two checkpoint inhibitor drugs that were to be taken daily.  After months of encouraging improvement, the drugs suddenly stopped working and cancer came back at full force. There were no other treatment options in B.C. Chris was told that he had 4 weeks left to live.

Chris and his mother began to investigate other treatment options from Mexico to Vancouver.  It wasn’t until they came across Dr. Walker’s immunotherapy clinical trial for melanoma at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton that they began to feel hopeful again.

“We didn’t even know what immunotherapy or what a clinical trial meant at the time, but we didn’t have any other choice at that point. When we met Dr. Walker and his incredible team he told me that although I was quite ill that the outlook [of the clinical trial] was promising and to not lose hope, because hope was all we needed.”

The clinical trial was an outstanding success. Chris credits Dr. Walker and his team with saving his life when he felt that he had exhausted all possible treatment options. Five years after his diagnosis, Chris is cancer-free and once again lives an active lifestyle.

When asked why clinical trials are important to him, Chris says, “Cancer research saved my life and I am forever grateful for immunotherapy. It saved my life and provided us at the time with a glimmer of hope to latch onto, which is the most important thing I believe.”

Chris shared his cancer journey and experience with clinical trials at the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Research Rockstars, a live fundraising initiative featuring medical oncologists, researchers and clinical trial participants from Alberta. ⁠Click here to watch his presentation.

Learn how the Alberta Cancer Foundation supports all cancer clinical trials in Alberta.