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Former ultra-marathon runner living with cancer urges people to take part in clinical trials

A former ultra-marathon runner who is living with prostate cancer is encouraging people to take p...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.38 1 Dec 2020


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Former ultra-marathon runner l...

Former ultra-marathon runner living with cancer urges people to take part in clinical trials

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.38 1 Dec 2020


Share this article


A former ultra-marathon runner who is living with prostate cancer is encouraging people to take part in clinical trials.

Vance Harris has taken part in two clinical trials which have prolonged his life.

While the cancer has since spread to his bones, he wants his participation in the trials to be a lasting legacy to his eight-year-old son.

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He hopes that his help with finding a treatment will benefit men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the future.

Research shows that people have become more aware of clinical trials since testing began on COVID-19 vaccines.

Vance, who was first diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago, said that while he wasn't surprised to be given the diagnosis, he understands that the process "can be absolutely devastating".

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on The Pat Kenny Show he said: "I have always been rather keen on clinical trials in general and have done a few even though I haven't necessarily needed to.

"We've got to keep this advancing and get the data so that the people behind us get a better deal."

Vance said that it was difficult to keep the trial a secret and he did "a whole bunch of sneaking around" but it was ultimately "an easy path" through it all.

He added: "I have to say in Ireland we have a fantastic medical branch and I can honestly say it was a bit of a joy.

"I used to almost look forward to going in."

He added that prostate cancer is a male problem which his father and grandfather both suffered from, so his son was a consideration in his decision to enter the trial.

However, he said: "It's everyone's son, we've got to get the data and move on.

"There's no good reason why a person shouldn't grab a clinical trial and run with it.

Vance's cancer returned for a second time, and he is now living with the disease as it has spread to his bones.

He said: "I'm certainly not going to die of my good looks, I'm going to die of cancer, there's no question about that, but I keep kicking that can up the road and the medical guys and supporting that fully with me, so I'm in a good place.

Former ultra-marathon runner living with cancer urges people to take part in clinical trials

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The Pat Kenny Show

    

Fear of side effects

Professor McDermott is part of Vance's medical team and praised him for being "humble" as he was running ultra-marathons while on the clinical trial.

He said: "He is actually a remarkable fella, it just shows you you can live a normal life with cancer and Vance is the living epitome of that."

Professor McDermott said that the main reason why only one in two people say they are willing to participate in clinical trials is down to a fear of side effects.

He said: "I think the overall the results are positive but I think the main concern people have is the potential for side effects.

"In reality, there's a very vigorous process that goes on before we accept to do a clinical trial and then when we open it and then we monitor each patient very closely when they're in treatment.

"The advantage of doing a clinical trial from my point of view would be two-fold: number one, you get access to the latest and greatest treatment,  and two, you get looked after extremely carefully by a dedicated set of nurses and doctors. "

Professor McDermott added that people in clinical trials being given a placebo still receive treatment, while others in the trial receive the existing treatment and the new treatment being trialled on top of that.

He said that a recent survey showed that a third of people would be willing to go on a trial just to help the next generation, and he said it is "amazing" that some people will undergo trials purely for altruistic reasons.

Main image: File photo of cell cultures being examined at a lab of the Pathology at Charite Hospital in Berlin. Credit: Britta Pedersen

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Cancer Clinical Trials Covid-19 Health Medical Trials Prostate Cancer Ultra Marathon

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