CHI Health Saint Francis' Cancer Center starts new clinical trial

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - CHI Health Saint Francis has been known for their participation in clinical trials in the past. Their Cancer Center just recently started a brand new one, making it the first phase one clinical trial they've ever been a part of.

Wilber Medbery meets with his nurse at the CHI Health Cancer Clinic. (Credit: Alicia Naspretto, KSNB)

It's all in the hopes of helping cancer patient Wilbur Medbery get back into remission. He's been a CHI patient on and off for about six years and is hoping this trial will be the treatment he's been looking for.

Medbery started the trial just over a month ago when his doctor suggested it as an alternative to the chemo his body was having a bad reaction to.

"We think clinical trials are really the best cancer treatment possible," Dr Ryan Ramaekers, Oncologist and Medical Director at CHI Health St. Francis, told Local4 News. "They really offer patients a chance to have cutting edge treatment, treatments that wouldn't be available through their normal insurance route, new experimental drugs that maybe are a blockbuster drug in the future that these patients can receive now."

Medbery's treatments in the trial include six three week cycles of getting infusion and injections, then he gets a week off. Despite the side effects that can prevent him from sleeping or disrupt his eye sight, he says since he started he has never once questioned if he wanted to keep going.

"When I read some of the side effects, I thought okay do I want to do this but the side effects I didn't think would be near as bad as what I had a few years ago," Medbery said. "I'll do it."

Another reason he was interested and why the hospital tries to encourage clinical trials is that it just brings them one step closer to the cure.

"I think clinical trials are a wonderful opportunity for our patients," Clinical Research Nurse Jennifer Scott said. "Not only for their own treatment but to give back to other to hopefully prevent future generations from having to deal with all the different treatment and side effects that patients have experienced in the past."

"If I can help someone else that has this multiple Myeloma, I will help them," Medbery said. "Whatever we can do to find a cure or make it go away longer than it did last time."