"I had determination to live." Rare grant given to Georgia Cancer Center creates new trial

Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 10:30 AM EDT
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Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019

News 12 at 6 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- We are seeing the effects of a $6 million dollar grant for the Georgia Cancer Center.

The money came in August to improve access to clinical trials in minority and under-served communities. We spoke to one patient benefiting from this grant.

"I've come a long ways, a really long ways

Sylvia Lake is 70-years-old. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

"It was hard and it was scary because ovarian cancer is an aggressive cancer," Sylvia shared her struggle.

But Sylvia fought, and she won.

"I had the determination to live regardless and I focused on that. And I stayed positive that I could beat it."

Sylvia was in remission for 10 years, but the cancer came back.

"It came back with a vengeance," Sylvia told us. "There were times when I didn't even think I would make it."

Then she learned of the Georgia Cancer Center's new grant program offering clinical trials for minorities. Dr. Sharad Ghamande is the director of that trial.

"Minority participation across-the-board sometimes is less than 5%. It kind of doesn't allow a big segment of the population to avail new technologies and therapies which can make a difference in their life," said Dr. Ghamande.

It already has made a big difference for Sylvia.

"When I got on the trial medicine it did wonders for me. It kept me living, and I want the whole world to know about this trial program."

Sylvia is now cancer-free, but it's unclear whether a particular drug will work on different races of people. That's why these clinical trials are so important, and Dr. Ghamande is determined to find out the answer to that question.

"We may not be able to cure all cancers but we can make them into a chronic disease where they can potentially live for a very long time with cancer."

The Georgia Cancer Center is one of 14 centers to get this grant. The goal is to help as many patients as possible.

To take advantage of the grant, patients can ask their doctor if they qualify for the trial.

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