Up until two years ago, Alex Neron had never spent a night in hospital. But that changed in June 2015, when doctors discovered through a colonoscopy there was cancer in his bowel. Scans soon determined he was dealing with stage four colorectal cancer.
One month later, Alex began chemotherapy treatment at The Ottawa Hospital, followed by two surgeries before going back on chemotherapy. It was during the second round of chemotherapy when doctors didn’t see the response they had hoped for. Alex’s body was resisting the chemotherapy, and did so not once but twice, which meant the chemo just wasn’t helping him. In need of treatment to save his life, his oncologist, Dr. Rachel Goodwin, introduced an immunotherapy trial for colorectal patients. In the New Year, he started on a second clinical trial - a combination of stem cell inhibitors and a pill form of chemo – which he hopes will slow the growth of the cancer.
When the 40-year-old thinks about having the options of these clinical trials here at The Ottawa Hospital, one word comes to mind – hope.
“Hope that everyone is heading in the right direction for cancer treatment, simple as that. Whether its immunotherapy, or whatever it is, the researchers are working on, it’s nice to see they’re working on something that could make a difference,” said Alex.
Alex is grateful to his oncologist and the care he’s received in the chemotherapy unit, saying the care he received was quite simply “phenomenal!”
Alex's CT scan in March showed that his disease is stable, with an indication that some of the tumours in his liver have shrunk. This is exciting news because it is the first time his disease has been stable since his first chemo cycles nearly two years ago. It is an example of the benefit of having access to clinical trials.
His diagnosis came shortly after he celebrated his first year in business with his tattoo studio and art gallery, Railbender Studio. Although Alex has taken a step back from tattooing since his diagnosis, he has resumed a regular presence at the studio since starting clinical trial treatments.
Editorial note: After a courageous battle with cancer, Alex Neron passed away on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.