Katherine Bensen’s commitment to improved lung cancer outcomes continues to inspire us and bring hope.
Our thanks to KSTP TV for bringing attention to Katherine’s story, and for highlighting the need for greater participation in clinical trials to improve treatments.
Recent Article: 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS followed up with a local woman who is committed to helping herself and others. (The link to the interview is at the bottom of this article.)
Katherine Bensen is back at Mayo Clinic. Bensen was diagnosed with non-smoking stage four lung cancer in 2014.
“My job for the last four years has been staying alive and having good health, good quality of life, going to doctor’s appointments, doing the research, spreading awareness about lung cancer and just being here for my family,” said Bensen.
In 2016, KSTP reported on a unique targeted therapy she received at Mayo Clinic but her cancer kept growing.
“The cancer is really smart,” said Bensen. “And so I’ve exhausted four different targeted-therapy drugs. And the cancer basically figures out that it’s getting blocked and then develops another mutation.”
But here’s what’s great about clinical trials— each time Bensen tried a therapy and it didn’t work, something new popped up that wasn’t available before. In April, she started another one.
“We clearly need more people,” said Bensen’s Mayo Clinic Oncologist, Dr. Julian Molina. “Now we have an abundance of new medications in cancer treatment, and what we are lacking is more patients to participate in clinical trials.”
Dr. Molina says clinical trials at Mayo Clinic and other research hospitals are important.
“The message is [to] consider clinical trials for two reasons,” said Molina. “One is because they have a good chance of benefiting you as a patient. Some of these medications are very good and they have a good potential. And number two, you have the chance of helping others.”
Bensen is dedicated to the cause. She and her father, former Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan, raise money for research. And she understands cancer impacts the whole family. She’s a wife and a mom; she’s been honest with her kids and they’ve learned a lot.
“You can get through anything,” said her son, Henry. “You know we have bad days, but I think about her and what she goes through and it really gets me through it, it gets me through anything.”
“It’s just about breaking it down and taking it day by day I think,” said her daughter, Anne. “Don’t let the big obstacle facing you get in the way of doing everyday life.”
Fast forward a month and there’s disappointing news. Bensen has learned the latest therapy isn’t working, either. But thanks to research and clinical trials, she’s now on another new treatment– her eighth.
According to Bensen, clinical trials have bought her time and given her hope for a cure.
“If other people had not done these clinical trials I would not be here today,” said Bensen. “And Dr. Molina said from day one we are going to treat it like a pair of tires. And when these ones wear out we’re going to get another set. I am definitely living proof that research matters and clinical trials matter.”
Katherine is beating the odds thanks to clinical trials. According to Mayo Clinic, the five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer that has spread (or metastasized) to other areas of the body is 5%. For more, read the Mayo Clinic’s Cancer survival rate: What it means for your prognosis.
#Katiewins Living with Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer EGFR Exon 19, Erbb2, T790M & MET ~ Diagnosed December 31, 2014.