Going the Distance for Cancer Research

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Lance Armstrong has combined cycling and his support for cancer research into The Tour of Hope, a week-long bicycle journey across America by people who have been touched by cancer. Two of Lance's teammates joined us on Oct. 6, 2004, to discuss the importance of cancer clinical trials. Survivors Jim Owens and Robert Stuart, MD, shared their personal and professional experiences live from the Tour of Hope.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Stuart. Where are you today? How far across America has the Tour of Hope gotten?

STUART:
Thank you for having me. We just left the small town of Ossian, in Iowa, and we're on a bus headed east to the next ride segment in Marengo, Ill.

MODERATOR:
Why did you want to do this tour?

STUART:
The purpose of the Bristol-Myers Tour of Hope is to raise awareness of the hope that is provided to cancer patients by cancer research, especially cancer clinical trials.

MODERATOR:
How were you personally affected by clinical trials?

STUART:
I am a physician. I specialize in hematology and oncology. I finished my training 25 years ago, so I've been able to see progress in cancer treatment that resulted from patients participating in clinical trials. I, myself, have treated patients on cancer clinical trials for 25 years.

I'm also a 13-year survivor of kidney cancer, but the real reason that I'm doing this ride is in honor of my wife, Charlene. In 2000 she developed acute myeloid leukemia. Of course, she had the best standard care, but she relapsed only six months after diagnosis. At that moment, her life expectancy was 30 to 60 days. She clearly needed more than standard therapy. She volunteered for a clinical trial of a new stem cell transplant procedure. This was using her brother's stem cells. She is alive and well and free of leukemia four years later.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Dr. Stuart, you have such a personal experience with cancer. How does that affect how you have approached treatment of cancer patients?

STUART:
There's no question that my personal experiences with cancer have changed the way I practice. For one thing, I identify with my patients, I'm closer to them, and I'm constantly asking myself, what can I do to give this patient hope at this moment? All I can say is it's made me more personally connected to my patients.

"Remember that clinical trials are not just for treatment failures but also may be appropriate for initial treatment of certain cancers."

MEMBER QUESTION:
I participated in last year's D.C. Tour of Hope. It was an amazing event and very successful. How do you feel the public has responded to this year's event? Has awareness increased? I wanted to add that I am a proud member and supporter of the LAF. I have traveled and followed the Tour De France over the past few years and other U.S. events. I wear my Live Strong Bracelet with pride and want to extend my support and gratitude for all their efforts!

STUART:
I was at the D.C. finale last year and I found that one of the most emotional events of my life. I think that a second year of the Tour of Hope has experienced much, much greater awareness by the public. We just went through little towns in Iowa where hundreds and hundreds of people lined the streets to cheer us on, and we attended a rally at an elementary school in Ossian, Iowa, and again, hundreds of people came out to cheer us and hundreds of people made the cancer promise.

I hope that you've made the cancer promise, and if you haven't, go to www.tourofhope.org and do that.

MEMBER:
Yes it was one of the most emotional events in my life, too. One of our team members was diagnosed with lung cancer only two weeks after the event. Unfortunately, she passed away, but we rode strong that day. And I continue to ride for her and the millions of others living with and beyond cancer.

STUART:
God bless you.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Should everyone who is diagnosed with cancer explore participating in a clinical trial?

STUART:
Absolutely yes. There are very few cancers that have treatment that is so successful that there are no clinical trials available. Remember that clinical trials are not just for treatment failures but also may be appropriate for initial treatment of certain cancers.