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A former Hawaii teen is battling a rare form of cancer. It’s a fight that’s now being taken to social media after she was turned down from taking part in a clinical trial for a new drug because of her age.
Nathalie Traller was a young healthy, athletic girl until two years ago when the teen started to get headaches. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer called Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma.
“Sarcoma (cases) represent one percent of all cancers,” said Nathalie’s father, Nathan Traller. “Well, Nathalie’s sarcoma represents one percent of that one percent.”
Originally from Kona, Nathalie’s parents moved to Portland, Ore., where the now-15-year-old has already undergone eight surgeries to tackle the stage four cancer.
“We were told there was no known chemotherapy that was effective,” Nathan Traller said.
They heard about a new drug which in clinical trials has signs of promise in treating some types of cancer.
Oncologist Dr. Clayton Chong says this drug is not available yet because its in the final stages of adult clinical trials. “Its one of the newer techniques in the battle against cancer,” he said.
Because Nathalie is under 18, she doesn’t qualify for the current adult trial.
“We’ve been pointed in this direction by various experts from around the country, and our own oncologist has requested it for her, but right now she is not able to access it,” Nathan Traller said.
Dr. Chong says it’s possible for adolescents to get clinical trials, but “unfortunately there are more protocols for adults than pediatric population.”
After being told there was nothing else they could do, the Trallers decided to reach out to social media for help. They created a 4Nathalie website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channel to share her story with the hope of encouraging drug makers to make an exception for the teen. Even celebrities have offered support online.
“She shouldn’t be penalized for her age to get the best that medicine would have for her,” Nathan Traller said.
“All these drug companies want to make sure their drugs are safe,” Dr. Chong said. “Safety is always first.”