PHOENIX - Vincent Streetch’s journey with lung cancer began more than three years ago. Since then, this Vietnam war veteran has been fighting the fight of his life.
“My mantra is 'screw cancer,'” he explained.
After surgery and chemotherapy failed, he was told he only one year left to live.
“His tumors are like a shotgun all over his lungs,” Streetch's wife, Sandra, said.
He says exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant used in the Vietnam War to expose enemies caused his cancer.
Determined to see it through to the end, he went to the Mayo Clinic and trusted them to help him fight his cancer. Enlisting in six different experimental trials involving multiple drugs to battle his cancer.
“I’m doing everything I can to get rid of it,” he said.
Each of the trials, he says, actually worked.
“In most cases they’re extremely slow growing or and I think in one or two it actually stopped growth,” he says.
Unfortunately, the trials didn’t help get rid of his cancer and now has to turn to chemotherapy.
“I’m now two years out of my dead day and I’m enjoying every day as I possibly can,” Streetch said.
But, that’s not where this battle ends. Last year Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer and she too turned to the Mayo Clinic for help.
“We’re going to try it, why not?” she said.
She was told her cancer would respond well to a six-month trial of two particular drugs that would shrink the tumor. Sure enough, she says that’s exactly what it did.
‘That took me from the likelihood of having a Mastectomy to a Lumpectomy,” she said.
Six months later she had the surgery and her tumor was removed.
“You can choose to withdraw and curl in a ball in the corner or you can fight back,” Sandra added.
For now, they’re happy enjoying life and keeping a positive attitude as they continue to fight Vincent’s cancer.
“I feel good every day; I’m fully active every day,” he said.
The two rose above the diseases by working out together, spending time with family, and getting into their sanctuaries; for Sandra it’s her sewing room and for Vincent his wood shop.
Down the road, the two hope these experiments they’ve been involved in will be useful in saving lives and creating cures for cancer.
“Maybe they’ll find something that’s preventative,” she added.
Maybe these drugs are too late for them, they say, but they hope one day they’ll help someone else.
“We refer to ourselves as lab rats. We are the Mayo lab rats,” the two joke.
They say they learned they were eligible for these types of research trials through their doctor. If you have any questions about treatments, speak to your doctor about the options available to you.