Hello there! 🙂 Below is a letter that I sent out a few weeks ago to some drug companies. As many of you are aware, my family and I have been fighting very hard for a chance to try a new cancer medication called PDL1 or PD1 blockers. Unfortunately, you have to be at least 18 to be included in the trial. Pediatric trials for the drug don’t start for some time; time that I do not have.
Please help spread the word! Appreciated.
It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair
But we’re getting stronger now
Finding things they never found
Dear Merck/Genentech/Bristol Myers,
My name is Nathalie Traller and I am 15 years old. I have been living with the rare cancer ASPS for almost 2 years. Above is an excerpt from a song called ‘Change’ by one of my favorite artists, Taylor Swift. This song has a lot of meaning and power to me, because I can find how my own life is represented in its lyrics. Right now, some exciting and amazing medicines for cancer are being created and tested. New things are being discovered, and new approaches are popping up, ones no one has tried before. We’ve gained an edge over cancer with creative and different approaches. One of these medicines is PD1 or PDL1, a drug that could help save my life…if I had a chance to try it in time. There are currently many trials with this promising new drug, and I meet all the criteria except for one…I’m not 18. There’s isn’t really a clear reason for this restriction, as often teenagers can tolerate the effects of the drug just as well and even better, than some of the older patients included in the trial. I’m 15, with opportunities ahead of me, trying to grow up and find my place in the world. Should teens be cut off from possible life saving meds because of their age? Pediatric cancer is a real, devastating issue today, and kids who have their whole lives in front of them are being denied the very thing that could keep them alive. I’m fighting not just for myself, but for the many who have struggled with this dilemma. When I walk into the halls of Sunset High School, I feel the excitement of opportunity, accomplishment, and discovering who you are. There are clubs for just about every kind of activity you could imagine. There are announcements for dances, concerts, basketball games, and track meets. There are teachers who will encourage you to take it one step further, to pursue your dreams. I so badly want to take part in all these activities; to get out and experience life.
I love writing, and art relaxes me in a way few things can. Swimming and being outside are essentials for me, and I am fascinated by animals. But most of all, I dream of becoming a pediatric nurse, inspired by the many who have taken care of me in a scary, unfamiliar situation. I’m excited to see where I will go in my life.
You can walk away, say we don’t need this
But there’s something in your eyes, saying
WE CAN BEAT THIS
But there are obstacles beyond my control, that get in the way of me having a bright, successful future. Cancer impacts my life in ways I would have never imagined. I dread getting up in the morning, as I’m immediately faced with severe nausea that we haven’t found a single antidote for. My parents have had to get used to handing me an upchuck bag as my face reddens. Strange and scary pains pop up, sometimes resulting in midnight trips to the ER and hospital visits. I take oral painkillers daily, that if not properly timed and monitored, can be deadly. The stress of keeping these pills down, despite my churning stomach, grips me like a sharp claw. And I have been forced to stop playing soccer and many physical activities, due to the unresponsive nerves and weakness in my legs from past treatments. Though I take every day as a gift, and appreciate what I am able to do, these challenges are very tough to ignore in my daily life. They remind me that I don’t have forever, and that pediatric trials for PD1 are still a ways away, taking place in September. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time. The cancer grows and causes damage while we sit here and wait.
So the request I make is this: Please give me and other kids battling cancer a chance at life. The chance to be something more than a victim of a greedy disease. The chance to go somewhere, be someone, and make a difference in this world. As I face each day with cancer, I remind myself of the lyrics at the end of ‘Change’.
Tonight we’ll stand, get off our knees
Fight for what we’ve worked for all these years
And the battle was long
It’s the FIGHT OF OUR LIVES
But we’ll stand up champions tonight