Young woman given 16 months to live defies oncologist’s deadly diagnosis

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A post shared by Katie Ortman Doble (@ceortman)

Only one year earlier, Katie had become a cancer survivor after a tumour that had only a two percent chance of metastasising was removed from her eye.

“But somebody has to be the two percent,” said Katie writing for HuffPost. The cancer spread to her liver, where medics identified 12 cancerous lesions.

“I needed to get my affairs in order,” Katie said. “My oncologist said I had one FDA-approved treatment option, and I trusted her.”

Her own father, being a doctor of internal medicine, knew that before a drug becomes FDA-approved, it goes through a clinical trial process.

“For someone like me with an advanced, rare disease, clinical trials offered a better shot at buying more time, which is really all we’re hoping to do,” Katie shared.

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A post shared by Katie Ortman Doble (@ceortman)

Katie’s father secured her an appointment that December at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.

“And so began my crash course in clinical trials,” Katie revealed. “Had I started on the first treatment option provided by the oncologist who diagnosed me… I would not have been eligible for the clinical trial he was running.”

Katie added: “I have heard of other patients who frantically start chemotherapy upon a terminal diagnosis, only to find that made them ineligible for potentially life-saving clinical trials.

“When you’re given an expiration date, it’s hard to take a pause on attacking the thing that is attacking you.

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A post shared by Katie Ortman Doble (@ceortman)

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“But this approach can mean having a matter of months versus years (or life and death).”

By May 2020, further tumour growths saw Katie engage in her fourth clinical trial at UPMC-Pittsburgh.

“My life started to feel like a game of whack-a-mole,” Katie confessed. “But I was so grateful.”

Katie explained: “Through all the flying back and forth, different doctors and side effects, I was buying time I wouldn’t have had if I’d listened to my first oncologist.

“On Sept 17, 2021, nearly seven years after I’d been given 16 months to live, I awoke from surgery to hear the words we once thought impossible: ‘We got it all.'”

Katie emphasised: “Clinical trials are not going to be the answer for every diagnosis, but they need to be a consideration, not an afterthought.

“If you or a loved one gets diagnosed with cancer, talk to your doctor about what clinical trials are available.

“This might require getting a second opinion — which ideally is done prior to starting any treatment.”

Follow Katie’s story of survival on Instagram/Twitter @ceortman.

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