Skip to main content

Patient Story

New treatments through clinical trials

In 2020, Alan, a Pickering resident and retired IT project manager, noticed blood is his urine. He sought the help of his urologist, Dr. Stephen Smith, to help determine what was going on inside his body. After investigation including a cystoscopy, Alan was informed he had cancer. Dr. Smith discovered multiple tumours in Alan’s bladder and scheduled a number of procedures to remove the cancerous tissue. This included intravesical therapy that delivered a medication called BCG directly to his bladder and several transurethral resections or TURBT surgery at the Ajax Hospital.
With the support of Dr. Smith, Dr. Pawel Zalewski, medical oncologist, and Dr. Wayne Koll, radiation oncologist, Alan was given a personalized treatment plan that also involved 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and twenty radiation treatments.
“I’ve received exceptional care from everyone along the way. From the nurses in systemic to the doctors. It hasn’t been an easy journey but everyone at Lakeridge Health has been wonderful.”
In the summer of 2023, Alan’s six month CT scan and cystoscopy revealed Alan’s bladder was clear. It wasn’t until his 12 month appointment that another CT scan revealed unexplained inflammation throughout his body that could mean potential cancer. He was sent for a PET scan at a partnering hospital to uncover what was going on. “My scan lit up like a Christmas Tree,” said Alan. “The treatment had cleared cancer from my bladder but it had spread to my lymph nodes and bones.”
“I didn’t have any pain, I had no idea there was cancer in my spine, collarbone and femur. I learned I had Stage Four cancer and it was extensive and incurable.”
In January 2024, Alan was offered the opportunity to participate in a new clinical trial. “I thought about it for a nano second and said absolutely,” recalls Alan. “I knew how important clinical trials were to bringing new treatments to cancer patients and I wasn’t concerned about participating.”
Alan knew by signing the informed consent and agreeing to take part in this trial, there would be an extensive workup of tests to see if he qualified to participate. Some tests completed were an ECG, ECHO cardiogram, CT scan and bone scan as well as a series of blood tests. Alan understood that if he met all these parameters, he could be enrolled to either receive the standard course of therapy or new trial medication in a 1:1 random manner, a common method in clinical trials. Fortunately, Alan did meet all requirements to participate and was notified he was assigned to receive the new study medication, the first in Canada to gain access.
For the past three months Alan has been receiving a unique treatment regime which includes the new drug in combination with immunotherapy.
While it’s still very early, Alan is happy with the results he’s seeing. He reflects that there have been ups and downs throughout his experience but he remains grateful for the opportunity to participate in the trial.
“Cancer is devious. It can morph and mutate in your body and what worked before can stop working,” says Alan. “If anyone is looking to support clinical trials at the Hospital you absolutely should!”
Community members looking to support the Research and Clinical Trials at Lakeridge Health can do so at and advance care for patients like Alan in Durham Region and beyond.