A 51-year-old Indian-origin woman who was given just months to live a few years ago is now celebrating after doctors stated she is showing no evidence of breast cancer following a clinical trial at a UK hospital.
Jasmin David from Fallowfield in Manchester is now looking forward to celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary in September after the successful National Health Service (NHS) trial.
David's two-year trial at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at Christie NHS Foundation Trust involved an experimental medicine combined with Atezolizumab, an immunotherapy drug administered intravenously which she continues to have every three weeks.
"I was 15 months down the line after my initial cancer treatment and had almost forgotten about it, but then the cancer returned," David recalled. When fit, she used to work as clinical lead at a care home for the elderly.
"When I was offered the trial, I didn't know if it would work for me, but I thought that at least I could do something to help others and use my body for the next generation."
Initially, she had to experience a number of "horrible side effects" including headaches and spiking temperatures and even had to be hospitalised for it over Christmas. "Then thankfully I started to respond well to the treatment," David said.
The previously fit and healthy mother of two grown-up discovered she had an aggressive triple negative form of breast cancer in November 2017, when she found a lump above the nipple.
“I was a fit, healthy, middle aged woman, who had never been ill before and suddenly my left breast was itching all the time," David told Daily Post. “But no matter how many times I scratched, it didn’t stop. Then, when I started to feel around, I found a lump above the nipple.”
She underwent six months of chemotherapy and a mastectomy in April 2018, followed by 15 cycles of radiotherapy which cleared her body of cancer.
Then in October 2019 the cancer returned.
Scans showed multiple lesions throughout her body which indicated that David had a poor prognosis. The cancer had spread to the lungs, lymph nodes and chest bone and she was given the devastating news that she had less than a year to live.
Two months later, and with no other options left, David was offered the opportunity to be part of research by participating in a Phase I clinical trial.
"I celebrated my 50th birthday in February 2020 while still in the middle of treatment and not knowing what the future held. Two and a half years ago I thought it was the end and I now feel like I've been reborn," said David.
She then returned to India in April to "live in gratitude".
"I have decided to take early retirement and to live my life in gratitude to God and to medical science. My family have been very supportive of this decision. I will be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary in September. I have so much to look forward to," David said.
"My Christian faith helped me a lot on this journey and the prayers and support from family and friends gave me strength to face the challenge."
By June 2021, scans showed no measurable cancer cells in David's body and she was deemed cancer free. The treatment, however, will continue until December 2023 but she shows no evidence of the disease.
“I just hope that my story gives people hope, as what the doctors have done for me is amazing. They have given me my life back," David added.
"We are really pleased that Jasmin (David) has had such a good outcome. At The Christie we are continually testing new drugs and therapies to see if they can benefit more people," said Professor Fiona Thistlethwaite, medical oncologist and clinical director of Manchester CRF at The Christie.
This comes a month after--for the first time in history--cancer remission was reported in every patient in a drug trial conducted in UK.
It was a small trial sponsored by drug company GlaxoSmithKline, 18 rectal cancer patients were administered the same drug and the cancer vanished in every single patient, undetectable by physical exam; endoscopy; positron emission tomography, or PET scans; or MRI scans, the New York Times reported.
Dr Luis A. Diaz Jr. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, an author of a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the results, said he knew of no other study in which a treatment completely obliterated a cancer in every patient.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” he said.(With inputs from PTI)