David Kooyman transferred his care to University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor of thoracic oncology, Tejas Patil, MD, to be part of a clinical trial to help with his rare lung cancer gene fusion.
David: "I am 71 years old, from Logan, Utah. I am married to my wife Joleene. We have eight children and 23 grandchildren."
Joleene: "The whole cancer journey has been very emotional, it has pulled us closer as a couple."
David: "In November of 2017, I had pneumonia. I went to my doctor and they corrected the pneumonia but I was left with a cough. I came back and had pneumonia again in November of 2018. I went to my physician and also an ENT, they were concerned about the cough and had tried a number of things over the previous year. Finally, in December of 2019, I went to a local hospital and had a CT scan and he was concerned about dark spots at the bottom of the right lung."
Dr. Patil: "David and I connected through a college of mine, Dr. Puri, at Salt Lake City who works at the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Center. She had taken care of this patient and in the process of managing his lung cancer she had identified a very unique gene fusion called a NRG1 fusion. They had tried a variety of different treatment methods including chemotherapy with immunotherapy, and a novel clinical trial, and unfortunately when she reached out to me David had not responded to either of these therapies."
David: "They moved the cancer to stave IV because the CT scan showed it had moved to my left lung. Which moved it to stage IV and then the concern came of what is going to happen now because of being in the blood and of course cancer grows and who knows where it goes."
Dr. Patil: "We were fortunate to be opening a clinical trial here at the University of Colorado that took a novel approach at dealing with what had been a tricky gene fusion to deal with in lung cancer.
Joleene: "From the first time we came to the University of Colorado Cancer Center we felt like we were important, that this drug trial was an important thing, that it was a choice that we made. We felt like it was definitely worth the effort to get here. We had an opportunity to have it in Salt Lake and we decided nope. We needed a teaching university, we needed a research university where there are multiple eyes looking at his reports, looking at his records, looking at the lab tests, looking at everything at every angle."
Dr. Patil: "I would say that the University of Colorado has an infrastructure that allows clinical trials that are conducted here to be successful."
David: "We did preliminary labs in the first part of December and started our clinical trial in the middle of December."
Joleene: "The overall experience here has been fantastic. Just everyone here is so positive and it makes our experience a lot better."
David: "Tomorrow we will complete our 17 infusions, for 17 straight weeks, where we fly over every Monday, get our infusion on Tuesday, we fly back Tuesday night.
Dr. Patil: "David has done remarkably well on this therapy. We are now almost 8 months in with persistent control."
David: "This is my doctor, this is him. The best of the best. If I could take the people who have taken care of us here at the University of Colorado, I would tell them thank you for being who you are. Thank you for making your expertise available to someone like me."