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Bill Redfield prostate cancer survivor

Bill Redfield of Lodge Grass says he was privileged to participate in a clinical drug trial through Billings Clinic Cancer Center. The trial involved an experimental drug to treat prostate cancer. Redfield says that since using the drug his cancer has been "undetectable" since April 2010. He was first diagnosed in February 2001.

Sandwiched between morning television talk show segments on Hollywood gossip, 30-minute meal recipes and national weather patterns, was some chatter about a clinical trial for a drug aimed at fighting advanced prostate cancer.

Bill Redfield cocked his head and waited, eager to hear more. It was 2006 and Redfield had been fighting prostate cancer since first being diagnosed in February 2001 at Billings Clinic. His prostate was removed and radiation treatments kept the cancer at bay only temporarily. Injecting Lupron into his muscles to relieve symptoms of the cancer had minimal effect.

The cancer was defiant, invading his nervous system. He was "losing ground."

But, more news about the clinical trial never came. So Redfield began scouring the Internet, searching for any mention of the drug, the trial, or the company. His pursuit was relentless.

Then finally, he located the company and called it. He had one question: Is there anyone anywhere near Billings involved in the trial?

Bingo.

Dr. Tom Purcell, former medical director of the Billings Clinic Cancer Center, was involved in the clinical trial. Redfield worked in tandem with Indian Health Service to get his care immediately transferred to Purcell and Billings Clinic.

"I felt I needed to be where I at least had a chance," Redfield said. "I was regressing. Everything was getting worse and worse. It was in the bone. It scattered all over the place. It just exploded."

The 6-foot man withered to 135 pounds.

His PSA, a blood test to measure how much prostate specific antigen a man has in his bloodstream, had soared to 69. Normal is generally anything from zero to 3.9.

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations.

Redfield's cancer was stubborn, but so was he. It became a contest of what -- or who -- would win. He said he steeled himself, made peace with the cancer and put the issue in God's hands.

Despite being temporarily paralyzed from the waist down in 2007 due to pinched nerves in his back, Redfield continued the standard course of treatment for prostate cancer. In December 2009, after an aggressive three-year pursuit, he was accepted to be part of the coveted clinical trial.

"I lined myself up to be part of it," Redfield said. "It was God-given. It was no accident that I got accepted. If it's an accident, it's a pretty thin accident. I give God the praise and the glory for it."

Billings Clinic is contractually bound to keep the name of the drug and its manufacturer confidential. The sponsor of the clinical trial cannot release information about the drug until it is FDA-approved.

Redfield continues taking the drug today and is required as part of the trial to visit Billings Clinic monthly for checkups and tests.

Today, Redfield weighs in at 217 pounds and his PSA is 1.6. His cancer has been "undetectable" since April 2010.

"Ten years ago I was ready to throw in the towel and here I sit today," Redfield said. "I want everyone to know that you just don't give up. You just don't."

 

 

 

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Contact Cindy Uken at cuken@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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