She was now thinking about going back to her job. But unfortunately, she was diagnosed with another melanoma was back and it had grown to her pancreas and liver with Stage 4.
"I thought it was some report mix-up. After all that I had gone through before, it was just too much. I was thinking about going back to the job and taking care of my baby, suddenly, I had cancer," Jamie said.
Jamie knew about clinical trials as she was working for a recruitment company for clinical trials. His husband was also aware that chemotherapy and other traditional treatments were not very good at treating melanoma. So they started looking for a suitable clinical trial.
Dr Steven Rosenberg, surgery chief at NCI, suggested that she was a good candidate for a TIL (Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes) trial at NCI.
TILs are the white blood cells with the capability of fighting their way into the tumor. In TIL therapy, first, some TILs are removed from the patient's tumor and then after increasing their numbers in the lab, they are infused back into the patient's tumor. These administered cells, already trained to kill cancer, are further enhanced with a high dose of interleukin-2 (IL-2).
The 50-50 Chance"The trial's results were effective in over 50% patients, so it was a 50-50 chance for me," Jamie said. "But I was hopeful and decided to go with it."
Initially, there was no improvement and her tumors were growing. Jamie and her husband were worried and started to think about other treatments. But after four months, her respiratory infection was reduced.
"I could feel my tumors shrinking," Jamie said. "TIL trial was working and I was showing improvements months-after-months." In 2014, Two years after, she was declared tumor-free.
"Her tumor was Stage IV with a 14% survival rate and very few treatments," said Rosenberg. "She is alive and well today due to TIL clinical trial."
Life after the Trial"I would not be here with my baby and husband today, without clinical trials. TIL treatment gave me my life," Jamie said. "I am a healthy person now with my whole life ahead. I am back at work and taking care of my baby."
These days, Jamie is educating cancer patients about the benefit and importance of clinical trials. She volunteers with melanoma groups, speaks at gatherings. She wants everyone to know that clinical trials are an effective and viable treatment option.
"Most people are not aware of the trials and treatments that can help them. There are hundreds of clinical trials going on for all cancers and actively looking for participants," Jamie said. "People should consider the trial along with traditional treatments when making a decision to make sure you are getting a cutting-edge therapy."