As a nurse, Margaret Johns is aware of protocols and “Best Practices.” Buzz words common to her world of medicine. But there she was in the doctor’s office hearing about the only treatment available to treat the stage 4 pancreatic cancer she had. Fortunately for Margaret, she learned that standard protocols aren’t really the only or the even the best option.
"Six months or less is the prognosis my oncologist gave me as I sat in her office on May 4, 2009. My stage 4 pancreatic cancer had metastasized to my liver. All of this happened without having pain or symptoms.
I then started on a weekly treatment of gemcitibane for the first three weeks. During this time I sought two other opinions and was told that this was THE treatment. I also was told to get my affairs in order.
Around the same time, I just happened to listen to a radio show where the host talked about "Rational Therapeutics." It made perfect sense to hear about having chemo tailored to an individual. My daughter Googled some info and I knew immediately that I wanted to do this.
When I discussed this with my oncologist, she had not only heard about it but had previously worked with Dr. Nagourney. The other two opinions I got told me to forget Rational Therapeutics because it probably wouldn't work.
I am an RN at the largest hospital in Cincinnati. When the word spread among the doctors at least 20 of them made it a point to talk to me and urge me to at least try it. So I did it.
I had to be off chemo at least three weeks prior to the biopsy. The doctor who did the biopsy had a personal interest, as his own daughter had been treated by Rational Therapeutics five years earlier. So I had the surgery and the biopsy was sent to California.
Within a week, Dr. Nagourney came up with a chemo combo.
The first few treatments were very hard. But as I learned what to anticipate and how best to use the pain pills and nausea medications, the treatments became routine. I have treatments on Monday, recover for a few days then work 12-hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday.
The treatments are every other week and on the off weeks I feel totally normal and live my life as usual. I initially lost hair but that has stopped. I have not lost any weight. I feel and look good.
I know that this saved me. Before I started Dr. Nagourney's treatments, I had a scan to see if the gemcitibane was working and it wasn't. The tumors were still growing.
To people who get this news, I say please give this a chance. Do yourself a favor, research this then make your OWN decision. Rational Therapeutics and Dr. Nagourney gave me a second chance for life."