Decision to Participate in a Cancer Clinical Trial a “No-Brainer”
for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphona Survivor
Arlene R. Kurland was treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the University
of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. She was treated by
Dr. Aaron P. Rapoport,
associate professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
and a specialist in blood cancers. Arlene participated in a clinical research
study, and she recently spoke at a patient education seminar on the benefits
of cancer clinical trials sponsored by the Leukemia& Lymphoma Society of Maryland.
I’m here today to tell you about participating in cancer clinical trials.
I had a very positive experience in a Phase III study that I participated in
at the University of Maryland (Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center).
I strongly recommend that if a clinical trial is in progress in your particular
medical area, you participate. Consider your options. Twenty years ago my mother
and Jackie Kennedy had no options (when diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma.) I had the option and today I’m a survivor. For me, it was
a “no brainer!”
I participated in a Phase III cancer clinical trial called The Genitope study, entering the study about
six months after my chemotherapy treatment. The study required me to have a
surgical procedure to harvest a small piece of an affected lymph node, which
UMGCC sent to a lab to make my customized vaccine. I recuperated in three days
with no problems. (The only negative part was that I asked the surgeon for liposuction
while he was in my belly, but unfortunately he said it wasn’t part of
I had a wonderful, caring, faithful support group -- not only at home, but
here at UMGCC. My nurses -- Fran and Mo --were wonderful. I could count on Dr.
Rapoport "24/7." They are all thoughtful, understanding, encouraging,
and just plain wonderful.
As a person with a medical background (I practiced for 20 years prior to my
present profession), I believe very strongly in clinical trials. Without
these studies, we wouldn’t be as advanced in medicine as we are today.
We would not have the treatments and/or cures for cancer and many other diseases
that we have today.
When deciding whether or not to participate in a clinical trial, consider all
the alternatives. What have you got to lose? A day or so a month at the hospital,
compared to maybe no days; a few minutes with at-home treatment, compared
to possibly no minutes. Some days, there’s some discomfort. Chalk
that one up to living!
In the Genitope study, two out of three participants received a customized vaccine.
I’m no gambler, but two-out-of-three was a no-brainer. I entered the study
believing, in my heart, that I was getting the customized vaccine. The preparation
in order to make the vaccine was just a minor inconvenience. The rewards, for
me, are awesome: the medical staff tells me I have no signs of lymphoma, and
that I’m “good to go.”
The UMGCC staff is still here for me. They still address my various concerns.
They are still caring, compassionate, thoughtful and understanding. Would I
enter a clinical study again? You bet I would. Consider all of your options
and you, too, will say ... "It’s a no-brainer!”
I wish you all the best of luck!
For more information on clinical trials at the University of Maryland Marlene
and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, please call 1-800-888-8823, or see our
active Clinical Trials