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Charles Tucker: How Cancer Research Saved My Life

May 27, 2021

Charles Tucker was diagnosed with stage III esophageal cancer in May 2015. Under the care of Sharad Jain, M.D., hematologist and medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Denton, Charles received neoadjuvant radiation and chemotherapy prior to surgery. In April 2016 his cancer recurred, and Charles was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. Charles enrolled in a clinical trial and has been in remission since 2018.

In honor of National Cancer Research Month, observed annually in May, Charles shared his experience in the clinical trial.

How did you learn about the clinical trial? Had you heard about clinical trials before you had cancer?

After I was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer, Dr. Jain told me about the trial and asked if I was interested. I told him yes and the trial had just come to Denton, so I was the first patient to participate at the Denton practice.

I had heard about clinical trials on commercials and from other people, but I’d never thought much about them. Before I had cancer, I never figured I’d be involved in any of them.

Charles Tucker

Can you tell me about your experience in the trial?

To get accepted into the trial, you have to take a test and be at a certain point with your disease. I was the first patient in Denton that got accepted into the trial, which was kind of exciting.

The treatment wasn’t that different from other therapies I received, just a different drug and less side effects. I received the therapy in an infusion, similar to chemotherapy except it didn’t wear me out like chemo did. The cancer cleared up and seemed like it just went away. I finished treatments in July 2018.

Clinical trials keep track of your progress, so I’ve been going in for labs and CT scans every nine weeks for the past two to three years, even though I’m in remission.

Did you have any hesitations about participating in the trial? What would you tell someone else considering a clinical trial?

When I first got diagnosed with cancer everybody was nervous and scared, but I wasn’t. I had my faith in God, that He was going to take care of it. And I never stopped believing that. When I heard about the trial, I didn’t have any hesitations about participating. When someone gives you a chance at a longer life, you take it. And I’m glad I did. 

To anyone considering a clinical trial, I would encourage them to lean more toward trying it. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what could’ve happened, and with a cancer clinical trial there’s nothing to lose. You’re more likely to gain from it by trying it.

[Cancer researchers] are doing important work to help as many people as they can. I’m grateful for their work and that I got to be a part of the clinical trial."

What did your experience teach you about the importance of cancer research?

Cancer research is really important. The people doing the research are testing out different drug variations to find out what works and helps people. They’re doing important work to help as many people as they can. I’m grateful for their work and that I got to be a part of the clinical trial. The therapy I was on first started as a treatment for lung cancer, and because of the researchers’ work I was able to receive it for esophageal cancer. The trial was the right decision for me, and I hope other patients have the chance to find something that works for them.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.