How a clinical trial gave me my life back after MDS and AML

Five years ago, my spouse and I had settled into our dreamed-of retirement. Although our 28 years as professors at the University of Arizona were rich and rewarding, retirement was much better. But on Feb. 6, 2012, I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood cancer. Because I was in my early 70s, a bone marrow transplant wasn’t my best option. Instead, I received chemo infusions for seven days every 28 days to improve my bone marrow and blood cell function. But after nearly 3 1/2 years of this, I learned the chemo was no longer working. A subsequent bone marrow biopsy demonstrated progression of my MDS, with the identification of an IDH1 mutation.     I sought a second opinion and got a grim prognosis. The oncologist gave me only five to seven months to live. He said I needed to find a clinical trial soon. Choosing a clinical trial at MD Anderson During my search, I learned about a Phase II clinical trial at MD Anderson using an experimental drug called AG120. About a week after I applied, Courtney DiNardo, M.D., asked me to travel from my home in Tucson for testing. Between MD Anderson’s huge campus and the battery of medical tests, our first visit was overwhelming. Yet, when Dr. DiNardo entered the room, she immediately made us feel like we were long-time patients or even friends. She was so cool, young and confident. Only 24 hours after my spouse and I returned home, Dr. DiNardo called and asked us to return right away. We canceled our holiday plans, packed our motorcoach and arrived in Houston...