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“My hope just continued to increase”: PG Cancer patient shares experience in clinical trial

Joseph Lepage was diagnosed with cancer three times in seven years.

The third diagnosis came briefly after finishing a round of chemo.

“Roughly six months later, just a routine scan, they CT me all the time, they found two spots on my lungs, they were very small but they were still there,” Lepage said.

“Chemotherapy was my option to begin with, which I didn’t like the idea, because I had already done it twice before in my life.”

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Lepage said he continues to have lingering side effects from chemotherapy.

“My brain still doesn’t work the way it used to, my short-term memory is almost non-existent, sometimes it surprises me and works,” he said.

“I’ve got neuropathy in both feet, I can’t feel them but they hurt all the time, which is a strange way to explain that sensation but it’s true. Too much time on my feet is a real challenge, footwear is also a big challenge, trying to find anything comfortable. I lost the sensation in my fingertips for a couple of years, they’re still not quite right but, I’m dealing with it. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, I’m grateful to be talking to you. If that’s all I have to deal with, really for the price of still being alive, that’s not really a big deal.”

Lepage said his wife asked if radiation was a possibility, and he was put into contact with Dr. Rob Olson at the BC Cancer Centre for the North and into a clinical trial.

The clinical trial is testing the use of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), a high-precision therapy which safely delivers higher doses of radiation to the tumor site, while limiting doses to healthy tissues.

“When they accepted me into this trial, there was a little bit of hope, and the information I got from the team that was dealing with me in there, I asked them the question, “what are your hopes this may work for me?” and I got the thumbs up from the people in that room,” Lepage explained.

“My hope just continued to increase from there.”

Lepage said he had around ten treatments that took around fifteen minutes each time.

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“Every time I left there, I didn’t feel any different than before I got there. There was zero side effects, I was a little bit tired sometimes afterwards, but I was able to function completely normally, and I’ve had no other treatments afterwards, and that’s two years ago now.”

In November, the BC Cancer Foundation launched a $2.2 million fundraising campaign to support Dr. Olson’s research.

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