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Experimental Treatment Helps Man Fight Rare Cancer

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Joseph Neequaye gets his blood drawn (credit: CBS)

Joseph Neequaye gets his blood drawn (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS) – A man Tennessee has traveled to Colorado hoping 2011 will bring new hope.

Joseph Neequaye, 34, has a rare form of lung cancer. Only about one in 20 people have Alk Positive Lung Cancer. Neequaye’s cancer is Stage Four.

He’s being treated with an experimental drug at University of Colorado Hospital. He’s one of only a few hundred to take part in clinical trials to test the new drug that has proven to be highly successful for Alk Positive patients.

“We have data on over 120 patients, nearly 90 percent of them have some kind of shrinkage and nearly two thirds of them have really dramatic shrinkages,” Neequaye’s doctor, Ross Camidge said.

UCH is actually the only place Neequaye can currently get the drug he needs. Thanks to donations from back home in Nashville, he’s been able to fly out to Colorado for appointments.

In Nashville he works as a janitor, supporting a wife, a four-year-old boy, and a ten-month-old baby girl he hasn’t even met yet back home in Ghana.

Neequaye has never smoked a cigarette in his life. His cancer is caused from a genetic mutation.

“Alk change creates a protein that doesn’t exist in normal people and it turns cells into cancerous cells,” Camidge said.

The drug Neequaye is taking keeps the protein from working and then the cells can’t grow. Ultimately the cells shrink away very quickly.

Joseph has faith he will survive. He has much to live for. He’ll get his citizenship in a year, and then bring over his family. He hopes they can begin a new life together here in the US.

“From what my doctor is saying, we could expect some great improvements within the next couple of weeks or months. I’m very optimistic.” Neequaye said.

Neequaye will return to Colorado for four appointments in January. After that, he expects to be able to get his cancer drug and treatments back home.
The drug company Pfizer hopes to have FDA approval by the end of next year to make the drug available to all patients.

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