When Marina Symcox was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) she was given no hope.In the late 1990’s, there were no effective treatments for GIST - a rare and very deadly type of stomach cancer.
After three years of surgeries and chemotherapy, she had given up on cancer treatments and began preparing for her funeral. For eight months, she was in hospice and confined to bed, waiting to die. She accepted this was her end and her family would go on without her.
Then in the fall of 2000, hope came into Marina’s life in the form of a clinical trial for an experimental medicine to treat GIST.
By this point, Marina was so ill she could barely stand, let alone walk, and wore maternity clothes because the tumor made her look pregnant. Technically Marina was too sick to qualify for the trial, a fact she and her physicians knew, but they also knew she had no other options.
Shortly after taking the medicine as part of the trial, Marina’s tumor began to shrink dramatically. While a few patients in the trial relapsed, many others like Marina have managed to keep their cancer in remission thanks to the innovative medicine. Because of the advances and innovations in cancer medicines, Marina who wanted to live long enough for her children to know and remember her, got her wish.
Marina’s story is part of PhRMA’s new campaign, I’m Not Average, to share inspirational stories from individuals about the powerful impact advances and innovations in cancer medicines have had on their lives.
For more information on GIST, please visit http://www.gistsupport.org.
Join the conversation about advances and innovations in cancer medicines using the hashtag #NotAverage.
For more information on the I’m Not Average campaign, please visit www.phrma.org/cancer.
Holly Campbell Holly Campbell is former deputy vice president of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on the cost and value of medicines. Prior to joining PhRMA, Holly worked for large and small public relations firms where she provided strategic communications counsel, media relations and partnership expertise to health care and pharmaceutical clients. In her free time, she enjoys taking barre classes, trying new restaurants and spending time with Boss and Poppy, her rescue pups.