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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

William Olive — back on the job after participation in sarcoma clinical trial

William Olive, cancer survivorWilliam Olive, a deputy sheriff in Oroville, first noticed numbness, tingling and pain down his leg. His personal physician — a member of his SWAT team — told Olive that the lump wasn’t normal, and ordered scans. The scans showed a soft tissue mass on his buttock near his hip.

His physician referred Olive to Robert Canter, a surgical oncologist with a specialty in soft tissue sarcomas, at UC Davis Cancer Center. In December 2009, a few days before Christmas, Olive discovered the little lump was cancer.

The next step was designing the best regimen for Olive’s diagnosis. Instead of pursuing standard treatment of chemotherapy and radiation therapy prior to surgery, Canter suggested that Olive consider participating in UC Davis’ clinical trial using sorafenib. A multikinase inhibitor currently FDA-approved for use in kidney and liver cancers, sorafenib shrinks the tumor prior to surgery. The clinical trial opened in May 2009.

Canter encourages all of his patients with aggressive or potentially aggressive sarcomas, like Olive, to participate in the trial since soft-tissue sarcomas are historically difficult to treat, and novel therapies are needed. He says that the trial so far has seen excellent results.

Six weeks of a sorafenib and radiation therapy treatment shrunk Olive’s tumor by about 30 percent. Olive waited another six weeks to recover and build strength, during which time he continued working. But even then, he says, the therapies were improving his health. Because the tumor had shrunk and become less invasive, his back pain lessened considerably. “It wasn’t sitting on my nerves anymore. That was pretty helpful!” he chuckles.

He then underwent a successful surgery and his prognosis is excellent.

Olive returned to work about six months after the surgery. Recuperation came with minor physical adjustments – for example, changing the position of his gun belt. “It used to sit right where the surgical incision now is,” he says. “I had to change to a drop-down holster, and carry my gun on my thigh instead of my hip.”

His team at UC Davis Cancer Center made all the difference, he says. “This is one of the worst experiences, by far, to have in life, but my team was great. They are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

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