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Clinical trial shows success in woman's fight against ovarian cancer

In the fall of 2014, at just 52-years-old, Catherine Klinkbeil sat in an emergency room, stunned by what doctors had just told her.

"I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was just a whirlwind," Catherine recalled.

After watching her aunt live only two years after the same cancer diagnosis at the same age, Catherine immediately began weeks of chemotherapy followed by surgery and 18 more rounds of chemo.

"I did lose my hair, and I was out of work for one year," Catherine said. "We would go and spend almost a day at an infusion center, and it did not make me feel like I was living my normal life."

That was the plan to battle the cancer; however, the reality was that her cancer kept coming back, even after chemotherapy and more surgery.

"My options were to either start chemo or start a clinical trial, and initially that was scary," she said.

While terrified and overcome with anxiety, Catherine took a leap of faith and enrolled in a clinical trial with Dr. Richard Moore at Wilmot Cancer Institute. She wanted lasting results in her fight against cancer and a quality of life.

"What we do is design new drugs for gynecological cancers - mostly ovarian cancer," Dr. Moore said about his research. "These drugs are novel drugs that are involving targeted therapies and small molecules - sort of the drugs that we will be using in the future."

"Instead of being like infusion therapy which sets a bomb off in your system and goes to everything, it is like a sniper and goes right to the tumors and works on killing them," Catherine said.

Catherine said the decision to begin a clinical trial was about more than her.

"These clinical trials are so important for developing drugs to help other cancers, not just ovarian cancer," she said.

It is a path she is paving for the future of cancer research and treatment innovation.

"They are advancing the science for women down the road," Dr. Moore said. "These are our mothers, our sisters, our aunts and they have given so much to us our whole lives," he continued.

For Catherine, it is to one day live in a world where children and adults with all different types of cancer will have a chance to not just survive, but thrive.

"We have turned it from a deadly disease, now into a chronic disease where patients live productive lives, very healthy lives," Dr. Moore said.

Catherine is three months into her clinical trial, and she is seeing positive results.

"There are days I forget I have cancer," Catherine shared. "The nurses are amazing and so supportive. They keep things upbeat, they are concerned about you and your family."

She is back to work, back to exercising and most importantly, back to having a quality of life with her family.

"I feel very young, and I have a lot of life to live, and I just want to go forward with it," Catherine said.

Catherine says support from family, friends and doctors and nurses is crucial for the well-being of anybody facing adversity.

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