Read about Steve’s “lifeline” thanks to Weston Park’s Cancer Clinical Trials Centre.
"I owe my life to Weston Park.”
Research and clinical trials carried out right here in Sheffield have the potential to change and save lives. We’re proud to have supported the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre (CCTC) at Weston Park since it opened in 1999.
The centre opened more than 20 years ago using charitable funding. That includes sizable donations from Weston Park Cancer Charity. It continues to support patients today with treatments which at times have proven revolutionary.
Those patients include 66-year-old Steve Colman, who was first diagnosed with throat cancer 10 years ago. He underwent chemotherapy, before a scan later revealed that the cancer had unfortunately spread to his tongue.
After his cancer returned, Steve had just a 20 per cent chance of survival. Steve had braced himself for more chemotherapy, and the possibility of having his tongue and voicebox removed. However, he was ‘thrown a lifeline’ by the trial at Weston Park, which might improve his chances of survival.
The clinical trial investigated the effectiveness of a particular type of drug treatment called immunotherapy. At the time, it had never been used before for head and neck cancer patients.
The impact of his trial was profound on Steve. After two treatments and five weeks later, he no longer needed to take painkillers after previously taking eight per day. His condition was already starting to improve.
“I had been expecting the worst"
“I had been expecting the worst, and so had my family,” said Steve.
“But they couldn’t believe it. I was on eight painkillers a day, and on morphine, and was in a lot of discomfort. Before I got taken on (onto the trial) I was really struggling. I could barely walk six feet.
“But two doses of treatment later, my strength was back. I didn’t have any side effects from immunotherapy at all, with the exception of one skin reaction towards the end of my treatment.”
Five years later, he recently completed his final scan at Weston Park before being discharged. He will still be monitored back home in Nottingham and will have MRI scans every six months. But his final scan in Sheffield was still an emotional moment for 66-year-old Steve.
Steve was a former engineer and a member of a band before his diagnosis, and put his skills to good use while going through treatment to fundraise for Weston Park Cancer Charity. He did this by making guitars and other musical-related equipment and auctioning them online, raising more than £1,000.
Steve even wrote a song called “Angel of the North” for Charlotte Miller and Dr Bernie Foran. Research nurse Charlotte and consultant clinical oncologist Dr Foran oversaw his treatment.
"He trusted us from day one"
Charlotte Miller, research nurse at Weston Park Cancer Centre, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant to see the impact the trial has had on Steve”.
“Having met him five years ago, not knowing what was ahead, to now after the trial has been completed – it’s brilliant. He trusted us from day one. Immunotherapy is now used for lots of different types of cancer, including head and neck cancer in specific circumstances.
“At the time, it hadn’t been used to treat Steve’s type of cancer before and his individual response to the treatment was remarkable. We are now awaiting the results of the trial to ascertain their overall significance. The results will also tell us what this may mean for treatments we can offer patients in the future.”
Find out more here about our commitment to enabling research. https://www.westonpark.org.uk/enabling-research.