“To me cancer is just an illness that has to be treated,” says cancer survivor Laurie Devitt.
Diagnosed with colon cancer in the winter of 2007, Laurie says she never stopped to question the unfairness of it, or even to ask: “Why me?” “It’s the way I was raised,” she says. “You just keep going.”
She never stopped working, even on the days she went to treatment.
“If you didn’t know she had cancer, you wouldn’t have had a clue,” says longtime friend DeeAnna Chase. “She’s like that with everything…whatever it is, Laurie is going to take it and run with it. She’s an incredibly upbeat person.”
Laurie also didn’t hesitate when her doctor, Andrew Pippas, gave her the option of treatment in a clinical trial.
“I guess I just thought, if I can help other people in any small way. If I can help find a cure for cancer in any small way.”
Medical director of the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus, Dr. Pippas believes cancer clinical trials offer patients the best possible care. “Both the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute consider clinical trial care the best care for any newly diagnosed cancer patient.” Clinical trials, he says, are also the way cancer therapy has advanced in the last 35 years.
The therapy in Laurie’s clinical trial used monoclonal antibodies. According to Dr. Pippas, the promise of these antibodies is that, when used in combination with standard chemotherapy, they will further reduce the risk of recurrence.
Laurie completed treatment in six months—just two days before Thanksgiving. A date, she says, she will always remember.
She says her experience with cancer may not have changed the way she sees the world, but it certainly increased her compassion for people. “I was lucky in that I tolerated it (chemotherapy) without any trouble, but I saw a lot of people who struggled.”
People have become more precious to her. Since her experience with cancer, Laurie says she no longer thinks: "I’ll help you, but not today. Now, I think: I’ll help you today.”
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