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Returning to Louisiana: Arizona Resident Chooses Treatment in Home State

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Blog - Kodi 2Originally a Cajun girl from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Kodi’s path eventually landed her in Arizona. Her unique accent often sparks conversation about home, but she never imagined life would send her back to Louisiana to fight cancer as a clinical trial participant.

Cancer Has No Boundaries

Kodi was diligent, never missing an annual wellness appointment. At her yearly screening on December 16, 2020, her gynecologist felt something unusual in her abdomen. A few ultrasounds later Kodi received the news – endometrial cancer.

As part of her treatment plan, she underwent a full hysterectomy. During the procedure, the surgeon found additional problem areas. “It was a three-hour surgery, and my surgeon cleared out as much as he could.”

When discussing chemotherapy, Kodi’s oncologist presented information on a clinical trial administered through Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center in Baton Rouge. He believed Kodi’s diagnosis made her a great candidate for participation with an opportunity to receive more advanced treatment than she would undergo in Arizona. Kodi then traveled to Louisiana and met with Dr. Sobia Ozair, medical oncologist at the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion. After learning more about the trial and facilities, she decided to make the move to Louisiana and take part in the trial. Having family in the area also helped ease Kodi’s fears. “Shutting down your life and going somewhere else with a lot of unknowns is scary,” she said. “But my doctor recommended it, so it was something I had to look into.”

Clinical Trials Advance Cancer Care

Clinical trials are an essential part of research to enhance standard cancer treatments, helping to improve patient outcomes and survival rates. Patients participating in clinical research receive the same standard of care treatment they would otherwise, but with the added benefit of a trial that may boost their outcomes.

Kodi’s trial is for an FDA-approved drug being tested in a new stage of cancer treatment. In most trials, participants do not know if they are receiving the trial medication or placebo. Kodi’s trial is double-blinded, meaning the clinical research staff and the treating physician also do not know. All medication is administered and tracked through a computerized system.

Maria Reyes, clinical research nurse at the Cancer Center, said eligible patients benefit tremendously. “We [clinical research staff] provide an extra set of eyes when taking care of the patient,” she said. “Because we need to understand any side effects and how they are feeling, we communicate with them often. We want them to feel as comfortable as possible.”

Maria also stressed participation is optional and candidates may opt out at any point. “The patient and physician are really driving the trial,” she said. “They communicate and decide the best course.”

Special Care at the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion

Kodi is being treated at the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion, a partnership between the Cancer Center and Woman’s Hospital. The Pavilion brings together experts to provide specialized cancer care for women. Kodi was emotional when speaking about her experience. “Everyone there has a place in heaven. The staff has been absolutely amazing,” she said.

Kodi’s trial will keep her in Louisiana temporarily, and she looks forward to the day she can reunite with her daughter in Arizona. She prayed on her decision to participate in this clinical trial and encourages others to have faith and focus on healing.

“During a scary time in my life, it’s encouraging to know that by participating in this trial I have an opportunity to help not just myself, but others also. I know this research will be useful and I pray it improves the survival rate of endometrial cancer patients.”

Learn more about clinical trials offered through Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at https://marybird.org/services/research/.