Diane Shaw knows firsthand the progress that can be made by going through a clinical trial.
"My mother had breast cancer 25 years ago, and she was in a clinical trial which gave her 25 years," she says. "She died September 30, but she had 25 years because of the clinical trial."
Shaw is now a participant in the trial. In fact, she is one in a million. Those are the odds to have the disease that has lived in her body for five years.
"My immune system is fighting my body. Since April of 1998, I've had a total of 16 surgeries," she says.
Shaw was the first person in the country, one of only 20 in the world, to test a new drug that could bring her a cure. Clinical tests can be heard on the radio and seen in newspapers everyday, but what exactly is a clinical trial?
Typically, it involves taking medication and charting your reaction over a period of time. There is also the little matter of drawing blood.
The trials can take as little as a few days or as long as a month. Sometimes you take the medication at home, other times you are required to stay overnight in a clinic under total medical supervision.
There are researching all kinds of things like problems with the brain, lungs and heart. They also test drugs for everything from cancer to the common cold. This testing is the last stage of research that has often been years in the making. Money is part of the process, plus you are helping others.
Dick Donnan is a prostate cancer survivor. He gives the money back. He is in his second clinical trial.
"I feel privileged to do this," he says. "It will help future generations and it could help my personal family, and it could help me."
For some, the help is immediate. Kylie Edwards was recently part of a trial to cure the common cold.
"I felt so much better within 24 hours and felt smart for doing it," she says. "I told all my friends and family, 'Hey, the cure for the common cold is finally here.' They all said where can I get it."
You get it by participating, getting in the game of science.
John Siska is an old hand at clinical trials. He has looked for new drugs to lower his cholesterol and ease the pain in his back, his knees and his neck. He likes the money and the fact that he may be helping someone else. He says he has never felt at risk.
"They're constantly checking on you while you're on the medication," he says. "You'll get hit by a car before something happens to you in these studies."
If you are interested in participating in clinical trials, you can head toTrialPages, the largest source for clinical trial listings on the Internet. What did you think about this story?Send us feedback