By Ken Coleman, Clinical Trial Participant

Several years ago, I saw an ad for a Clinical Research Associates study on heartburn. I had several of the symptoms the ad mentioned, like pain in my throat and a burning feeling in my chest that would last a while. I thought, “why not?” and entered my name. I felt better while I was in the clinical trial and taking the meds, but eventually the heartburn came back. A couple of months ago I saw that CRA was conducting another heartburn clinical trial, so I thought it was time to come back. I’m glad I did. This time, the trial might have saved my life.

One of the great parts of participating in a clinical study is that you get free health care. In the heartburn study, they give you an endoscopy because they need to see what’s in your throat. I thought they would find the same conditions as before, but this time it was much worse: the doctor found signs of throat cancer. Thankfully, they found it early and were able to operate, saving me from a potentially disastrous future.

Since I don’t go to the doctor very often, the cancer could have gone undetected until it was too late to do anything. While it’s no substitute for an annual visit, participating in a clinical trial is one way that I do regularly get to see a doctor. I have gone to CRA for so long now, it’s like they’re almost my family office. They still have the same medical director, Dr. Stephan Sharp, the same nurses, and the same front staff as they did in my first trial, and they gave me excellent care. I was glad to see them again, and they treated me like one of their own. When I received my cancer diagnosis, I they took care of me and directed me to the appropriate specialists.

If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to give clinical research a try. There are lots of good reasons to join a study, for example getting free access to lifesaving healthcare like I did. Other patients sign up to get access to medicine early or to help save the world from a pandemic, like many of the COVID vaccine trial volunteers. Some volunteers do it because they want to learn about science, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Others sign up just to help. These are all great ideas. Every medicine you have ever taken has gone through the clinical trial process, and being a part of it can save a life. It might be your own life, like in my case. But it could also be the life of a loved one, or thousands of people you have never met. Whatever your reason, you’re giving the best gift of all to someone: more time.

Thanks to this trial, I have more time with my kids and my grandkids. Once I’m fully recovered from surgery, I’ll have the ability to give them more memories of a happy childhood with their granddad, and the chance to teach them how to play golf, one of my favorite hobbies. That’s truly the end goal of all this research anyway. We all just want to live happily and healthily, and modern medicine gives us the opportunity to do that. If you want to give someone a gift that lasts, sign up for a clinical study with CRA today.

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