Oughterard man’s cancer story is told in new short documentary

Christopher McEvilly

The experience of an Oughterard man who took part in a clinical trial is being used to educate other patients about the benefits.

In a documentary-style short film, Christopher McEvilly, 81, recalls how his trouble started when he was about to take out his jeep from a shed. A gust of wind blew open the shed door and knocked him to the ground.

Tests revealed that he had three broken bones in his back. But he was shocked to learn that medics had uncovered an underlying condition.

He was diagnosed with blood cancer which was causing his bones to be brittle. He was offered a clinical trial run by the Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI) which promised to cure 90% of the cancer and the remaining 10% would not interfere with the quality of his life.

Professor Michael O’Dwyer explains how clinical trials indicate whether new treatments being developed are safe and effective. Until they are used on patients as part of a clinical trial they will not be approved.

“Frequently now a clinical trial is with better targeted treatments. There is evidence of significant benefits at the very earliest stages of a clinical trial,” he states in the film.

He says that patients should realise that chemical trials are not about using patients are guinea pigs but rather to provide them with the best possible treatments that are currently available.

Scientists and doctors were constantly monitoring the patient during the trial to determine its affects.

Christopher said after just a number of weeks on the trial he began to feel strong. He was able to sleep without painkillers and drive safely.

Within ten months of being on the medication, he was told by his medical team that 90% of his blood cancer had been cured and the remaining 10% would be monitored.

“If you are lucky enough to be offered a trial, grab it again with both hands and thank your God. I know I prayed an awful lot to our Lady of Knock in the last year – a lot more than the last 80 years of my life.”

The film was produced with the support of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway. It was directed by lecturer Dieter Auner and produced by Dr Seán Crosson, acting director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media.

He said the project was part of ongoing research exploring the role of digital media in healthcare.

Visit the website for further information on the BCNI and clinical trials.