While COVID-19 vaccines are dominating the headlines, a pair of Jefferson researchers remain focused on preventing another disease: colorectal cancer. Scott Waldman, MD, PhD, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Professor, and Adam Snook, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, have developed an adenovirus-vector vaccine that works by prompting an immune response specifically to a colorectal cancer tumor antigen called guanylyl cyclase (GUCY2C), first identified by Dr. Waldman in 1994. This research will now benefit from a generous gift by grateful patient Lorraine Swoyer, and her husband of 40 years, David.
It’s been more than two years since Lorraine, now 62, was diagnosed with colon cancer. A month after the diagnosis, a friend of the family put them in touch with Charles J. Yeo, MD, FACS, Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery, to get a recommendation for a surgeon. In short order they were meeting with Director of Colorectal Surgery, Scott D. Goldstein, MD, FACS, who ultimately removed the tumors in Lorraine’s colon, along with numerous lymph nodes for further evaluation.
As part of her treatment, Lorraine also worked with medical oncologist, Edith P. Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP. She underwent six months of chemotherapy, which concluded in January 2019. Since then, she has been under close surveillance and is rapidly approaching the two-year mark of being cancer free.
Lorraine gives high praise to every physician and nurse she encountered during her experience as a Jefferson patient.
“Everyone was phenomenal,” she says. “They were very attentive and explained everything. I felt comfortable asking my nurses anything.”
Lorraine says she’s less quiet now than she was before her experience with cancer.
“I’m not embarrassed by it,” she says. “I want to be open about it and help other people going through it. Emotional support is such an important part of the healing process.”
Now that she’s recovered, Lorraine is back to enjoying life with her husband and grown sons. One son owns and operates a restaurant with his wife in Saratoga Springs, New York; the other son was recently married. While they await grandchildren, she and Dave enjoy visiting and renovating their home at the Jersey Shore. When the pandemic restrictions ease up, they hope to travel frequently – especially since Dave recently announced his retirement from banking.
She’s also energized by the progress Jefferson is making on preventing and treating colorectal cancer, and happy to be able to support it.
“When we toured the lab and heard about what they’re doing, we decided to donate to get this vaccine to the finish line and hopefully save someone else from going through a similar ordeal,” Lorraine recalls.
To learn more about supporting cancer and surgical research, contact Kelly Austin at 215-955-6383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Swoyers Support Colorectal Cancer Vaccine Research,"
Jefferson Surgical Solutions: Vol. 15:
2, Article 9.
Available at: https://jdc.jefferson.edu/jss/vol15/iss2/9