It was the best of times and the worst of times for Abi Ford: Her first grandson had just been born, and within months of her newfound joy, Abi received a shocking diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. Suddenly, she was faced with a life expectancy of less than one year.
"I was scared and felt utterly lost," said Abi. "All I could think about was what I was going to miss. I'd have these moments when I'd think, 'I'm never going to see my grandson get on the school bus and go to kindergarten.'"
Making the Right Choice
Abi knew her life depended on receiving the best treatment available. For her, Penn's Abramson Cancer Center was the obvious choice.
It was there that physicians offered Abi an innovative clinical trial through its world-renowned translation research program.
"This was a Penn-developed clinical trial that I could not get anywhere else," said Abi. "It involved treatment for a certain genetic mutation found in lung cancer patients, and thankfully, I was a candidate."
The Support She Needed
After receiving her cancer diagnosis, Abi felt as if her life was reeling out of control, but she quickly learned that she could rely on her team at Abramson Cancer Center for the care and encouragement she needed.
"When you have cancer, you do not have control. But by joining the clinical trial, I gained back some control," says Abi. "Everything was explained to me, and I knew I was doing something positive to save my life. I knew I was in the best possible clinical hands, and that gave me a sense that I was going to be OK."
Abi First, Cancer Second
Every time Abi walked through the doors at Abramson Cancer Center, she knew she was more than just a patient to her team.
"They wanted to know about my life, and they took the time to ask me things. That was very comforting," says Abi. "They knew I have children and grandchildren. They constantly encouraged me to go on and live my life to the fullest while participating in the trial. I feel as if they treated me as Abi first, cancer second."
More Life to Live
Seven years and four grandchildren later, Abi has far exceeded her initial prognosis.
"In that time, I've seen all my grandchildren get on the school bus. My life has gone on," says Abi. "Most days, I wake up and feel so good that I can't believe I have cancer. As odd as it sounds, cancer has added things to my life, not subtracted. As a child I rode horses, and I recently started to ride again. I take my meds and go off to the barn."
Abi's doctor has discussed the possibility that her current clinical trial may no longer be keeping her lung cancer in remission, but there is plenty of hope. Because Penn is dedicated to ongoing research, her physician has two new clinical trials waiting in the wings for her.
"My doctor has told me that I'm doing very well, but to know there are two new trials that I'm a candidate for is very comforting," says Abi. "I have a real future thanks to Penn. And with life comes hope."
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