One of the things Charles Coates liked about retirement was more time for travel and to reconnect with old friends and classmates. East Coast or West, he took pleasure in packing up to join the gang for a long weekend or an extended trip down memory lane.
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But when at age 77 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, traveling for care was the last thing he wanted. And he didn’t have to.
Coates found the right treatment close to home at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.
“On my first appointment, I was somewhat taken aback,” Coates said. “I realized all the doctors and nurses sitting around the table were there for me.”
At the Graham Cancer Center, patients like Coates may often start their cancer journey at one of the many disease-specific multidisciplinary clinics (MDC). Each clinic gathers the expertise of an entire team of cancer specialists to develop the best treatment plan for their patient’s particular cancer.
“Being a former trial lawyer, I asked a lot of questions. I liked what I heard.”
— Charles Coates
Specialists in the Genitourinary MDC include a urologist, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a research nurse, a health psychologist, social workers and other health professionals along with a cancer nurse navigator to provide help and support throughout the entire cancer care experience.
“My doctors had a plan already in place to treat my type of cancer and there was no discussion of going anywhere else,” Coates said. “Being a former trial lawyer, I asked a lot of questions. I liked what I heard.”
Coates’ team told him about an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial that is investigating a new and potentially more effective way to treat his type of bladder cancer that was found to involve the muscle wall.
Clinical trials are carefully controlled studies that offer patients new treatments or new combinations of known treatments that could prove to be more effective against their particular type of cancer.
“Many of our patients, like Charles, can benefit from the robust clinical trial program we have at the Graham Cancer Center,” said medical oncologist Jason Palopoli, M.D.
“The new trial would potentially give Charles the opportunity to receive immunotherapy along with the standard chemotherapy and radiation therapy recommended for his muscle invasive bladder cancer.”
Radiation and chemotherapy work in different ways to kill, shrink or stop the growth of cancer cells. Immunotherapy works differently by triggering the body’s own natural defense systems to attack the cancer.
The question the trial is intended to answer is: Will the addition of immunotherapy to the standard regimen of chemotherapy and radiation therapy improve outcomes?
Although the clinical trial is ongoing, Coates’ treatment was successfully completed. He is still being monitored, but so far remains disease-free.
“My experience with the Cancer Center has all been quite remarkable,” Coates said. “When you hear you have bladder cancer, that sets you back on your heels a bit. But from the very first meeting, I felt confident I was in the right place for my care.”