Cancer Clinical Trial Opens Up New Treatment Option for Calumet City Man

As a retired mechanical engineer, Robert Oswald has a deep affinity for the field of science and research.

So when the 75-year-old Calumet City resident was diagnosed with locally advanced colorectal cancer last fall — and discovered he had the opportunity to participate in a clinical research study at Ingalls — his natural inquisitiveness was piqued.

“At the time I was diagnosed, my oncologist Dr. (Mark) Kozloff talked to me about a clinical trial,” Robert explained. After weighing his options, Robert signed up for the investigational therapy.

“I was definitely interested in exploring a better, more effective way to take care of my cancer,” he said. “I also liked that my participation could someday help others facing cancer like mine.”

The study, N1048, investigates how well chemotherapy alone compared to chemotherapy plus radiation therapy works in treating patients with rectal cancer who will eventually undergo surgery.

Robert’s treatment plan consisted of six weeks of both before he underwent a colon resection by general surgeon Gary Peplinski, M.D., at Ingalls in May of this year.

“The tumor had shrunk quite a bit before surgery,” Robert explained. “And I’ve had very few side effects. I’m a little tired sometimes, and my face gets red. But I’ve still got my hair, and my appetite is good. I’ve even put a little weight back on.”

Subsequent tests have shown no new cancer cells, which is the best news of all for the grandfather of five.

Following the colon resection in May, Robert will undergo a second surgery this fall to reverse a temporary colostomy.

But for now, he’s back to doing what he enjoys most — spending quality time with his family.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate in a clinical trial at first,” he admits. “But I’m glad I went ahead with it. I’m so grateful to my doctors and very happy things are working out as well as they appear to be.”

On a side note, Robert’s wife Mary Ann was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2013. Although she is not enrolled in a study, after completing a second series of chemotherapy at Ingalls with Dr. Kozloff, her cancer now appears to be in remission. Though it’s been a challenging year for them both, the loving couple couldn’t be happier!

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