Lung Cancer - Stage IV: Rick Carroll

Rick Carroll was no stranger to life in the fast lane: this former Marine sergeant loved to ride his motorcycle and had a penchant for hard partying. But, in 2004, determined to get his life back on track, Rick checked himself into rehabilitation.

Within a year, he had a successful business and was drug and alcohol free. But, his celebration turned to anguish when a routine doctor’s appointment revealed the worst: Rick had stage IV lung cancer.

Rick began chemotherapy treatment. Several months later when Rick arrived for his regularly scheduled chemo infusion at the West Los Angeles Healthcare Center of the VA, he was stunned when the doctor questioned why he was there. That’s when his oncologist told him that the treatment wasn’t working and there was nothing left to do. He was told to get his affairs in order and referred him to hospice care.

Luckily, his friends and family didn't give up as easily as his doctor. That was when he found a physician who gave him a medicine he had yet to try: Hope.

“I was put into contact with Dr. Nagourney and introduced to his work when my own oncologist had basically told me to go home and die.

Fortunately, in November 2005, my surgeon was able to send a sample of my lung cancer tumor to Rational Therapeutics. There, my cells were tested to show which drugs were resistant and sensitive to my tumor. The result: a combination of two drugs that are not commonly used for lung cancer in the United States.

The drug combination Dr. Nagourney prescribed shrank my tumor substantially and I was able to go back to my normal life for a while.

But, in 2006, a CT scan showed that I had yet another tumor the size of a lemon in my adrenal gland. In a case like mine, most doctors would have taken this as a sign that my cancer was getting worse.

Fortunately, Dr. Nagourney insisted on having that tumor sample biopsied as well. Based on Rational Therapeutics’ functional profiling of the new tissue, it was suggested that I try a new drug — Tarceva. I responded very well. There have been multiple biopsies performed since and they have all shown no recurrence of cancer.

Needless to say, I was taken off of hospice care (a story Dr. Nagourney loves to tell) and given my life back. These days, I’m enjoying life – spending time with my girlfriend, Jennifer, riding my motorcycle and working on creating new business opportunities."

For a 2014 update on Rick's story, please view Dr. Nagourney's blog entry of April 15, 2014.

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