Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Conquering cancer

In March 2008, 69-year old Ida McCutchen was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer. Immediately upon hearing this news, Ida’s family sprung into action. Her daughters Robinette and Tracey and her granddaughter Chalisa knew that, while their strong family was prepared to do whatever it took to battle Ida’s disease, their best weapon was expert cancer care. Without hesitation, the family turned to the national leader in cancer care right here in Richmond: VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Ida’s multidisciplinary team at Massey included lung cancer expert Sherman Baker, M.D., and radiation oncologist Ted Chung, M.D., who told the family about the available treatment options and the benefits of clinical trials. They explained how trial participants have access to promising new treatments that may prove more effective than the standard of care. After hearing how patients receive regular and careful medical attention from a research team that includes physician-scientists, clinicians and nurses with expertise in the type of cancer she had, Ida and her family decided to participate.

With the support of her caring family, Ida was determined to beat her cancer and get back to her normal life, including cooking the family meals she is famous for. “Cancer wasn’t going to conquer me,” she said, “I was going to conquer cancer.”

Her clinical trial began in July 2008. One year later, her chemotherapy and radiation treatments successfully halted and reversed the growth of mass in her lungs. Now she is well on the road to recovery.

In light of their mother’s remarkable recovery, Robinette and Tracey have become strong advocates for cancer research. Robinette is quick to say, “Many people have misconceptions about clinical trials. Patients always get the best treatment available. Our family was blessed to have this opportunity — not only to obtain exceptional treatment for my mom, but to contribute to research that could impact thousands of lives.” Back in the kitchen now, Ida adds happily, “I was treated like a queen at Massey. I was treated like family. I couldn’t have gone to a better place.”