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Leonel Rodriguez got some terrible news in November 2019.
Doctors diagnosed Rodriguez, a South Texas resident, with mantle cell lymphoma – an aggressive, rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The first medicines he took to treat the cancer actually worsened his condition.
He soon learned about a potentially beneficial clinical trial for lymphoma patients at the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. Clinical trials help researchers learn how to better slow, manage, and treat diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
“[Clinical trials were] the best way because, you know, I feel good now with the treatment,” Rodriguez said. “Now I feel I’ve been feeling well, and well, well.”
Rodriguez’s Decision to Participate in a Clinical Trial
Rodriguez has come full circle in his life.
After immigrating from Guatamala to the United States in 1979, he spent more than 30 years as a health data collector and research assistant, utilizing his native Spanish language to interview patients in America.
He is now retired, living in Kingsville, Texas, which is just south of San Antonio.
After his cancer diagnosis and after the first few treatments didn’t help, he said his doctor suggested a clinical trial at the Mays Cancer Center.
The trial was an investigational study for mantle cell lymphoma: a Phase 1, Open-Label Study to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Efficacy of HMPL-689 in Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Lymphoma.
Although he hadn’t participated in a clinical trial before, when presented with the option, Rodriguez took the opportunity.
“I’ve been in treatment with [The Mays Cancer Center] since January of 2020 and my doctor gave me like 3 or 4 different medications and he said that maybe this new medication with the trial would help,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez Experienced Benefits from the Clinical Trial Treatment
Rodriguez praised how the clinical trial’s treatment has helped him.
He had been dealing with one of the most common symptoms of mantle cell lymphoma, which are enlarged lymph nodes that cause include painless swellings throughout the body.
“6 weeks ago, I had a big [swelling lymph node] on my head that you could see very easily, I had to use a hat to cover it,” Rodriguez said. “It was like, woof, like half of a golf ball.”
With the help of the treatment, the swelling on his head went away.
“Two or three days after the trial, I felt [the swollen lymph node] was going down,” he said, “and in three weeks disappeared completely.”
While participating in a clinical trial has been a new experience for Rodriguez, it has also been rewarding.
“If [others] have my same kind of cancer, take it. Take this trial. It’s good, it’s been very good for me.”
How Can You Join a Clinical Trial?
You can be like Rodriguez!
Visit the Salud America! clinical trials page to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you and your familia can participate.
Our team, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez of UT Health San Antonio, is sharing open clinical trials and uplifting the voices and stories of Latinos who have participated in clinical trials to encourage Latinos to volunteer. This work is supported by a grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
“Latinos are in clinical trials are not only helping themselves, but they are also building a future with better treatments that can help their families and communities,” Ramirez said.
Latinos are historically and presently underrepresented in clinical research.
Without Latino participation in clinical trials, the benefits of learning more about treatment and through research could miss this demographic.
Consider joining a trial today!
By The Numbers
This success story was produced by Salud America! with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The stories are intended for educational and informative purposes. References to specific policymakers, individuals, schools, policies, or companies have been included solely to advance these purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation. Stories are based on and told by real community members and are the opinions and views of the individuals whose stories are told. Organization and activities described were not supported by Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and do not necessarily represent the views of Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.