Ovarian cancer patient thankful for immunotherapy clinical trial

When Cathy Tompkins complained of an unusual pain near her sternum, doctors took an X-ray and told her she was likely constipated. When her pain persisted and a second X-ray didn’t indicate what was wrong, a friend urged her to seek a second opinion. Cathy got a concerning call from her new doctor while she and her husband were celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary at a Texas Hill Country cabin: her CT scan showed cancer cells. The doctor suspected they originated in one of her ovaries. “My first thought was, I wonder if I’m going to make it to my 49th wedding anniversary,” Cathy recalls. She was immediately referred to MD Anderson where she was diagnosed with stage IV high-grade serous ovarian cancer, an especially aggressive form of the disease. The cancer diagnosis was a shock to the 67-year-old, who had always lived an active and healthy lifestyle and who had few ovarian cancer symptoms. “I’m the one in the family who never gets sick,” she says. Confidence in her care Cathy was familiar with MD Anderson, as she’d been a caregiver for both her mother and father when they were treated here many years before. “It never crossed my mind that I would be the one getting the treatment,” she recalls. During her first appointment with Shannon Westin, M.D., associate professor in Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, Cathy felt confident that MD Anderson was her best choice for care. “She hadn’t been in the room five minutes before I said, ‘I’m good. She is going to take care of me. She is on it!’” A Moon Shots Program...