Cancer Research: Going the Distance

Cancer 101: Cancer Explained

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.

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MEMBER QUESTION:
How did you get involved with the Tour of Hope?

STUART:
Actually, I applied for the national team last year and was a finalist, but was not selected for the team, so I applied again this year and was selected.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How has the trek across the country been so far? Are you glad that you joined the Tour?

STUART:
The trip has been awesome. We are finding it very challenging physically, riding four hours every 16 hours, but it is tremendously uplifting mentally. I'm especially pleased to be riding with my teammates and look forward to completing this incredible journey.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Does Lance Armstrong ride with you some of the way?

STUART:
Just this morning our team, Team B, left Mason City, Iowa, on an 87-mile ride. About three miles into the ride another rider in the same Tour of Hope uniform joined us from a van on the side of the road. It was Lance Armstrong, and he rode with us for 25 miles.

MODERATOR:
Joining us now is Jim Owens; live from the Tour of Hope. Welcome Jim.

OWENS:
Wonderful to be talking with you.

MODERATOR:
How has life on the road with the Tour of Hope been for you?

OWENS:
It has been one of the most moving experiences of my life.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How did you learn about the cutting-edge treatment you received for your brain tumor, Jim? Was it a "last resort" scenario or did you get involved with it from the very beginning of your treatment?

OWENS:
It was not a last resort. My tumor was diagnosed in 1998, and we went into the standard treatment of surgery, which was not successful, and then radiation, which shrunk my tumor by 33%. Three years later it recurred.

I had significant side effects the first time around, most noticeably epilepsy. Because of that experience, I wanted to find a treatment that was effective yet was not going to give me any more of a neurological deficit, so I asked a lot of questions, did research, got a second opinion and found some wonderful doctors that laid out my options, including this breakthrough treatment, which I chose to do. It stopped my tumor, it left me healthy throughout treatment, and I'm riding today because of it.

MODERATOR:
How are you feeling today?

OWENS:
I'm feeling great today. Two days ago we had a really difficult night stage, really cold, very windy, and nothing really to see, and we had an aggressive pace to set. I was really hurting at the end of that. Today in the sun we have lots of people cheering us on. There were a lot of kids, a lot schools. I really miss my 5-year-old boy, Max. It really filled our sails, lifted our hearts. Although I just biked 83 miles, I feel I could just get right back on the bike.

"Through my own life and the lives of all the people I've ridden with, I see how cancer research and clinical trial participation are making all the difference."

MEMBER QUESTION:
How does it make you feel when you ride into a crowd of people who are cheering you on?

OWENS:
It was really exciting. I tell you, you're exhilarated, smiling, and crying at the same time. You put an incredible exertion out there. It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people out there.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What are the risks of participating in a trial? Were you afraid?

OWENS:
I was afraid of my tumor, and after doing my research the treatment I chose seemed like the best option of getting the results I needed and getting me back into my full life.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you think clinical trials ever give participants false hope?

OWENS:
I think there is always hope. I've seen it in my own life that so many people can get great results from their treatments. There's no guarantee in anything. It's important for people to ask the questions and make their own decisions. Clinical trials are going to make a better tomorrow for people with cancer.

MODERATOR:
If you want more info about clinical trials, please visit the WebMD message board, "Clinical Trials". Our expert can answer some of your questions and direct you to more information.

OWENS:
I see people all the time that have been diagnosed and I tell them the same things:

  • Have hope.
  • Be your own quarterback: Ask questions, take charge.
  • Know with your whole heart and spirit that better days are ahead.
Now through my own life and the lives of all the people I've ridden with, I see how cancer research and clinical trial participation are making all the difference. That's what is going to give us a world where cancer is either beatable or manageable and no longer a killer. More hope is coming every day.

MODERATOR:
You can go to www.tourofhope.org to learn more about the incredible ride of these amazing cancer survivors and make the pledge to learn more about cancer, clinical trials, and hope! Our thanks to Jim Owens and Robert Stuart, MD, for joining us live from on the road with the Tour of Hope. For more information, please visit www.tourofhope.org.

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Reviewed on 10/14/2004 2:39:21 PM

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