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Patient Experiences in Research

It all started while she was reupholstering the furniture in her dining room. As Linda Brinkman stapled fabric onto the chairs, she felt an obscure pain that wouldn’t go away. She would later undergo various imaging, colonoscopy, and even endoscopy procedures in search of what was causing the pain. Ultimately, a simple blood test showed elevated levels of CA-125, a biomarker that may be elevated in some patients with specific types of cancers.

Following surgery in May 2010, Linda was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer, which is second only to the most advanced stage of disease. It meant that the cancer was in one or both ovaries and had spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen or to lymph nodes.

While friends and family encouraged her to seek treatment at a prominent cancer center, Linda felt strongly that she needed the personal touch that Atlantic Health System had to offer, along with comparable expertise.

“For me, there is a direct correlation between the quality and successes of cancer treatment and having confidence in the doctor/patient relationship, which I find invaluable,” said Linda. “There is no comfort in simply being a statistic at a larger institution, and at Atlantic Health System, you’re not a statistic.”

Due to the aggressive nature of her disease, Linda decided to participate in a clinical study investigating the use of a drug that inhibits the formation of new blood vessels. The drug has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of colorectal, lung, brain and kidney cancer, but is still being investigated for use in ovarian cancer.

“Knowing that I was diagnosed at Stage IIIC, with the next level Stage IV and after that death, I knew that I had something serious and needed the best shot at fighting this disease,” recalls Linda. “That is why I was open to my physician’s recommendation to enroll in a clinical study.”

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