MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Michelle Langbehn, 30, has a one-year-old daughter. She also has stage IV sarcoma, with a life expectancy of one year. That is unless she is able to beat the odds as a result of promising new treatment undergoing clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
But Langbehn, according to the Washington Post (WP), won't be receiving the treatment that she was scheduled for due to the House GOP not passing a new federal budget. The resultant cutbacks at NIH (for what are deemed non-essential services) have stopped clinical trials dead in their tracks.
For Langbehn, who has promised her new daughter that she will be around to watch her grow up, the stoppage of the clinical trials has cut off hope. She has a message for Congress as she told the WP:
I want to tell them that lives are at stake. This isn't just a matter of inconvenience. This is a matter of life or death. Iâ€™m not just doing this for myself. There are 200 people that are trying to get into clinical trials each week. I want to speak for all of us.
Of the experimental procedure the House GOP shutdown is preventing her from receiving, Langbehn says:
It was a treatment that targets the tumor from the inside, basically, and kills it from within. It's so different from any other treatment like chemo, which attacks all rapidly growing cells. Thereâ€™s no guarantee that this might be the drug that helps but, at the same time this trial is as close to a magic bullet as weâ€™ve found. Previous trials of this drug [Cabozantinib], there have been remarkable results....
If I had a message, it would be that lives are at stake. People donâ€™t want to be enrolled because they're doing well. Theyâ€™re looking because of something that's wrong. For them to have that taken away, it almost makes you want to lose hope in a way.
RT online reports that some of the cancer patients denied clinical trial treatment are children:
Patients seeking to enroll for treatment in research studies at the National Institutes of Healthâ€™s Maryland hospital are out of luck due to the government shutdown.
For every week the shutdown lasts, the agencyâ€™s research-only hospital will turn away approximately 200 patients - 30 of them children - who often seek participation in experimental studies after more traditional methods have failed, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins told AP.
There is no guarantee that the clinical trial Langbehn is being denied because of the House GOP government shutdown will prolong her life indefinitely, but it does provide a great deal of promise and hope -- to her young daughter and family.
"Lives are at stake," she told the WP -- and indeed they are.
(Photo: GDS Infographics)