She was a saleswoman at that time and was working hard. Because she was not a drinker so she thought it was just a normal thing due to putting in lots of physical work.
When she finally went to her doctor, they found that she had developed cirrhosis. The doctors decided to do an ultrasound which showed many tumors throughout her liver. It was hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare type of liver cancer. They told Sharon that she only had 18 months to live.
She went to the nearest cancer center but because she had so many tumors, radiation therapy was not enough. Her doctors suggested a clinical trial.
Why not a Clinical Trial?"I figured why not do a trial?" she says. "I didn't expect it to work for me."
The double-blind national trial was for a drug called Brivanib. She started her trial in June 2011. There were more than 1,300 people enrolled at that time, but the drug did not show any positive results in most of the candidates.
Few weeks into the trial, her tumors stopped growing. Her condition had improved a lot.
"She is the only patient in the world currently taking this medication, as Sharon was the only patient who was known to derive benefit from the study drug," says Andrew Tatar, who coordinates clinical trials for UW Carbone Cancer Center. At the end of the trial, there were only 22 patients left and none of them showed any positive results except Sharon.
I Wouldn't Be Here if it wasn't for the TrialAfter the trial ended, Sharon continues to take the study drug under a "compassionate use" trial. Sharon is now in the event planning business and goes about her day as a healthy person.
She takes the pill every day. Every every few months she sees her oncologist for scans and blood tests to check that her cancer remains stable.
"Every once in a while, someone will tell me they want to donate their body to science," Kollman says, "and I think to myself: I already did that!"