Mom, Former NDSU Cheerleader Fighting Cancer Finds Success in Clinical Trial

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A North Dakota mom of two and former NDSU cheerleader is calling her experience in a clinical trial a "success" and researchers are hailing it as a potential breakthrough when it comes to treating cancer.

Researchers say this new weapon comes from a surprising place -- inside the patient's body.

A clinical trial was just done on a new treatment that is based on two FDA approved immunotherapy drugs that are used at the same time. In the study, the drugs jumpstarted the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.

The trial found it stopped the development of skin cancer in 58% of the cases.

This research success story is proving to be a real life saver for Ashley Seykora. She just went through the clinical trial.

The Towner, North Dakota teacher was given a Stage 4 melanoma diagnosis after the birth of her second baby, Beckett.

The melanoma spread rapidly during her pregnancy. She stopped treatments, so she could ensure a healthy delivery.

She decided to take the chance and moved to Texas to take part in the trial. Ashley, her husband Dan and two children spent three months in Texas. The trial was at MD Anderson hospital. They have a floor dedicated to melanoma care.

Ashley made it through 3/4s of the trial before her body could not handle it anymore. Doctors told her that is longer than many people. The trial proved to have serious side effects and many people were not able to complete it.

A scan of Ashley's body after the clinical trial showed incredible results. Her dermatologist found no new moles. Actually, some of the moles on her body even shrunk and lightened. Her melanoma specialist says all of the random tumors on her body are now gone. Her liver lesions have shrunk dramatically by 80-90%.

Ashley says, "we were thrilled with the results of my scans, because most of the time it is the six-month mark that shows the best progress with these types of drugs." She adds, "The fact that these early scans showed such good results was awesome news."

Ashley say she had a feeling that her scans would show good results, because she had a lot of indicators that they say are good signs. For example, she couldn't feel the tumors under her skin.

Even though the immunotherapy research is promising, it does come with some drawbacks. The researchers caution that drug combo that was tested in the clinical trial has serious side effects.