In January 2017, Leonora Kaufmann celebrates four years as a pancreatic cancer survivor.
“When we received the diagnosis, my husband and I were stunned,” she shares. “We didn’t really say anything to each other. When we got home, we cried, and then I started looking up clinical trials.”
Leonora worked in the medical information field for many years, providing others with resources for various diseases. She immediately knew that clinical trials were going to be important to consider for her own treatment.
There are many reasons Leonora thinks it is important to consider clinical trials: “The best screening methods and treatments are probably still in the lab. Through a clinical trial you can hopefully find a treatment that works for you and help others with this disease in the future.” She also notes that the patient’s observation and medical care are often remarkable on a clinical trial.
Since her own diagnosis, Leonora has lost two cousins to the same disease she is still fighting today. “I don’t take anything for granted,” she says. “I just live every day and know how lucky I am.” Leonora is currently in a surveillance trial to help further research of the disease. She also has a list of trials ready in case her tumor returns.
The advice she gives patients: “Don’t give up. I know the impact of this diagnosis. You are shocked. You are terrified. But you can fight. Get information from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and join a local affiliate. Look for clinical trials and new treatment options. Find the right doctor. Get support from others who have been there.
“Yes, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 9 percent. But no one in that 9 percent gave up hope. Keep fighting.”
Pancreatic cancer patients who participate in clinical research have better outcomes. Every treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network strongly recommends clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision.