Trials saved my life

Savanna Griechen

FREMANTLE’S Savanna Griechen miraculously beat gastric cancer and is calling for more investment into the ground-breaking clinical trials that saved her life.

In 2019, aged just 32, Ms Griechen was told by doctors she had 12 months to live.

“I was living and teaching in Melbourne when I started having back pain that wouldn’t go away,” she says. 

“Because of the countless rounds of testing, I returned to Perth to be with my parents for support. 

“Just weeks later my symptoms worsened and I was rushed to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where emergency department doctors confirmed I had a 2cm adenocarcinoma tumour in my stomach.

“They told me I had no hope of seeing my 34th birthday and my only treatment option was palliative chemotherapy.

“Thankfully, I was put in contact with one of the top gastric cancer specialists in Western Australia, who arranged for me to begin treatment using a drug that was part of a clinical trial for a ground-breaking immunotherapy treatment. 

“I started the treatment in late September and within a month of being on the new drug, my tumour marker had shrunk by 50 per cent. By December 2019, my specialist gave me the brilliant news – I was in remission and there was no sign of cancer.” 

Ms Griechen is now the new face of Cancer Council WA, lobbying for greater investment into ground-breaking clinical trials.

Cancer Council WA prevention and research director Melissa Ledger said research to support clinical trials is the vital link between laboratory discoveries and new treatments.

“Clinical trials can deliver real hope for cancer patients like Savanna, who can face limited treatment options,” Ms Ledger sys. 

“Comparing the current best practice treatment with the new or ‘experimental’ treatment provides the evidence needed to change clinical practice and it’s the best way of improving the treatment and care of people who have cancer. “

To help support cancer research, make a tax-deductible donation to Cancer Council WA before June 30: donate.cancerwa. 

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