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Story of Harry Verbunt
Harry Verbunt

I live in the Netherlands and, luckily for me, I was able to get new medication as part of a clinical trial. This was more a coincidence than it was planned. After I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer on May 27 2021, they told me it was curative. At that time there was no need for special medication and I was treated with standard medication and surgical procedure (radiation with support of chemo and surgery after a few months to remove 2/3 of my stomach and 2/3 of my oesophagus).

On April 7 2022 a new CT scan showed that my cancer was metastatic and non-curable. Thanks to a second opinion from Professor Bob Pinedo, I found out that my tumour was HER2-positive. At the hospital they said I couldn’t be treated anymore and that I had between 1 and 3 years to live.

With support of the professor, I came into contact with the Netherlands Cancer Institute and they did have a clinical trial that fitted my condition perfectly. I started with that clinical trial on June 3 2022 and since September 2022 there is no visible tumour to be seen on the CT scan. It looks like the clinical trial is doing its work.

To conclude, I was finally able to get the special medication, but it was more or less by coincidence, not due to a standard procedure. Access to medicine should be embedded in the standard procedure for all complex cancers, which inevitably include metastatic cancers.