Pelotonia-Supported Clinical Trial Returns Patient to Active Lifestyle

Pelotonia Supported Clinical Trial Returns Patient to Active Lifestyle

Wally Yocum, a technical manager at the Marietta branch of Koroseal Interior Products, LLC, has a biology degree from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey that he pursued partly because he thought, “Maybe I could help find a cure for something.”

Years later, he did just that by participating in clinical trials for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Yocum was diagnosed with CLL in August 2008 when consulting with a local doctor after being informed his hemoglobin was too low to donate blood that month. After several rounds of treatment, including an experimental clinical trial that did not result in durable remission, he enrolled in a phase I/IIb study of ibrutinib (Imbruvica®), the first drug designed to inhibit a protein that is essential for CLL-cell survival and proliferation.

CLL, the most common form of chronic leukemia, causes a gradual increase in white blood cells called B lymphocytes, or B cells. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 15,680 Americans  ​were diagnosed with CLL and 4,580 died from the disease in 2013.

In October 2011, Wally entered the ibrutinib trial, which was led by John C. Byrd, MD, co-leader of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James, and supported by Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State.

The treatment, which includes three pills taken every morning, has resulted in a durable remission and improved quality of life for Yocum, as it has for hundreds of other patients across the United States who participated in this clinical trial.  Yocum remains in remission and is back to his active lifestyle. After a four-year break, he will complete his second Pelotonia ride this August, making the full 180 mile trip as part of the Team Buckeye Highway Hope Peloton.

“I've been very fortunate to have been involved in a clinical trial that eventually led to FDA approval of a new treatment for CLL,” Yocum writes in his Pelotonia profile, referring to the February 2014 FDA approval of ibrutinob for treating certain patients whose CLL has relapsed or resisted treatment. “Now, I'd like to help ensure that funds are available to support ongoing research.”

To support cancer research at the OSUCCC – James and improve the lives of patients like Wally Yocum, ride, donate or volunteer for Pelotonia by visiting http://www.pelotonia.org.