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Radio review: Cancer Trials – Behind the Scenes at the Christie

This look at people taking part in drug trials was, understandably, a sobering experience

Broadcast over two Sundays, Cancer Trials – Behind the Scenes at the Christie (5 Live) was a sobering listen, as you might expect. Presenter Jeff Bird followed the stories of those taking part in drug trials when no other options remain. It movingly captured moments when hope appears to drain away, and then flicker back into view, but only through sometimes entirely untested drugs. One woman Bird spoke to was the first person in the world to take her medication.

You could hear in patients’ voices how these drugs throw out the possibility of a lifeline, however tangled and slippery. Dale, fighting lung cancer, was on his second trial and sounding remarkably chipper. “It’s more fishing and time to enjoy myself,” he said of doing the trial. After five weeks, though, a scan brought bad news. “It’s showing specks appearing elsewhere on my lung,” he said, his voice flatter, the hope momentarily knocked out of it. We left him about to start a third trial; I listened to that with fingers crossed.

It was particularly sad hearing mothers trying to keep things together (“I was pleased it was me and not another member of my family”) and not being able to countenance the trial not working. As a mother to young twins put it, “Me not being here isn’t an option.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds