LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. Denise Finley knew she had to make a change.
The chemotherapy the Lehigh Acres woman was undergoing for cancer in her small intestine led to a small heart attack, pneumonia, two strains of flu and a blood clot in her lungs.
Her search for a different approach led her to a clinical trial at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Denver, where she undergoes biweekly treatments that attempt to simulate her own immune system to fight the cancer.
“I wasn’t apprehensive at all,” Finley said. “I wanted to live and it was like, whatever choice do I have?”
Her tumor shrank from the size of a golf ball to the size of a pea after one year, doctors told her. It grew again after a six-month break from the treatment, so she remains part of the trial, but she’s excited about the possibilities.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the same sort of immunotherapy for other types of cancer, lending hope to others hopeful of avoiding chemo.
“We leave the clinic and go to dinner,” Finley said. “We do things where if it was chemo I wouldn’t be able to. I’d be sick.”