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From a “blessing” to a “lifesaver”: AFSC Enables a Cancer Patient to Join a Clinical Research Trial

If you’ve learned anything about Angel Flight South Central, you know that our flights make an enormous difference to the patients and humanitarian workers who use our service. Our volunteer pilots transport people to life-saving treatment every day. But sometimes it’s easy to forget just how literally Angel Flight can bridge the gap between life and death.

When Cathy Osborn learned she had cancer in 2009, it was a big enough blow. Cathy’s close-knit family includes her husband, mother, son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons – all three of them just entering adulthood. She made the 45-minute trip from her home to Little Rock not long after to have the tumor surgically removed. It was at that point she learned that her cancer was actually located in her appendix.

Only about 1,000 people each year develop appendix cancer, so effective treatments are less well understood. In fact, Cathy’s tumor did not respond to chemo, and she has had to resort to multiple surgeries, none of which have eradicated the cancer entirely.

Then, just last year, Cathy heard that a clinical research trial to test an experimental treatment for appendix cancer had just been approved MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Only 20 slots were available in the trial, and when Cathy learned six months ago she could have the last spot, she hesitated.

Cathy’s home is 500 miles away from Houston. The clinical trial could last as long as a year and would require her to travel to Houston every other week. This meant that a family member or friend would have to spend 16 hours total in the car every other week. This felt like too much of a burden to place on her loved ones, so Cathy thought about turning down the spot in the clinical trial, even though her doctor told her she had no other options for treatment.