Before being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, Raya Bodnarchuk was already being celebrated as a noted artist and sculptor who taught at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. But most recently she was recognized for an entirely different reason: she and several other participants in clinical trials were invited to speak about their positive experiences at the AWARE for All-Baltimore event held at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.
Mesothelioma patient speaks of importance of clinical trials
Bodnarchuk was first diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2012, when a bout of bronchitis turned into pneumonia, and then into frequent pleural effusions. Though her illness came as a shock, she was fortunate to have close access to some of the best medical care in the country. She chose to have chemotherapy treatments early in her illness rather than pursuing surgery, and then later enrolled in one of the many clinical trials being offered at Johns Hopkins University.
In speaking at the event, Bodnarchuk credits the availability of those trials for her long-term survival of mesothelioma, saying, “I’m lucky that I live here.” She recognizes her good fortune in living in an area where “centers of excellence” like Medstar in Washington, D.C., the University of Maryland, and the National Institutes of Health are offering patients the opportunity to test new protocols as they work to find cures.
Strides being made by medical researchers are advanced by volunteers
Also speaking at the event was Mary Hesdorffer, executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. She spoke both about the impact of asbestos in industrial areas like Baltimore and of the remarkable strides being made by medical researchers, and particularly of the importance of those patients who agree to participate in clinical trials that advance our understanding of the way new protocols impact patients. “I’ve got a couple of 20-year survivors of the disease,” Hesdorffer says. “One drinks Scotch and eats steak… the other is a vegetarian. We don’t know enough about what works, yet, how it is genetically different from other cancers. That’s why clinical participants like Bodnarchuk are so important.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you would like to learn more about participating in a clinical trial, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.