Broken Arrow woman speaks up for patients with rare thyroid cancer, shutdown puts treatment on hold

TULSA - To some the government shutdown means losing a job or a paycheck.

But one Broken Arrow woman says it could become life or death for others.

"But my time is running out as my tumor is growing, chemo is no longer working," Cheri Lindle read from an e-mail.

Lately Lindle has been reading a lot of e-mails like that one. She runs an email support group for 900 people with Anaplastic thyroid cancer, for which there is no known cure.

"She is wanting so much to see hope," Lindle said, of a woman that e-mailed her from Michigan. "With the government shutdown these people aren't even seeing hope."

Lindle said the only treatment for ATC is government run clinical trials, which only buys patients time. The trials consist of aggressive radiation, chemotherapy and medications. But they have been put to a stop during the government shutdown.

"Lets un-furlough those professionals that are doing the research, that are overseeing medication, any of those things that help trials advance," Lindle said.

According to Lindle, someone might live just a matter of weeks without entering clinical trials. She knows from experience. Her step-father Bob Collins passed away years ago after not entering clinical trials himself. That is why she is in her sixteenth year of speaking for those with ATC.

"I don't know why I've continued so long," Lindle said while fighting back tears. "This was my step-dad, but my step-dad was a knight in shining armor."

A family man and always up for a challenge, ATC became the challenge Collins couldn't beat. A few people on Lindle's e-mail support list have survived, but they survived after entering clinical trials.

"To communicate that on our list is for people to have hope that they didn't have when they joined the list," Lindle said.

She wants the shutdown to end, but if it doesn't she just wants Congress to find a way to re-open clinical trials for people with ATC and other rare disorders.

"I don't care if you don't get to see a monument, what I care about is people's lives," Lindle said. "And I'm baffled that people, that these folks, that our government won't say 'we will fund this, we will battle about other things over here but we will fund this.'"

Lindle said that in other states some clinical trials have re-opened after individuals contacted their elected officials in Washington. She is asking that Oklahomans do the same.

More information on Lindle's e-mail support group can be found on the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association's website

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