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Case study: Melvin's story: taking part in the FLAIR study

Melvin, 63, from Northamptonshire talks about his “very positive” experience in research

The FLAIR study is a front line therapy for Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (also called CLL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Melvin was first introduced to FLAIR in a conversation with his haematologist, where he then did further research himself to determine if clinical trials were a good option for him. 

“As I have had a positive experience, I have not doubted my trust in the process,” Melvin says, who has taken part in The FLAIR study at Northampton General Hospital. 

How did you find your experience?

Despite having to transfer hospitals before starting the trial, Melvin describes how his appointment came through very quickly and he “felt very comfortable with the team from the initial outset.”

Participants go through a number of stages when taking part in a clinical trial, and for Melvin this process lasted for a period of 6 years (from 2017 to 2023). Nevertheless, Melvin says that he was made to feel like “a person and not just a patient” from the initial consultation as his doctors took the time to get to know him, as well as fill in any gaps in his understanding. 

The drug used in the FLAIR study has the potential to impact other areas of your health, such as the heart, so participants undergo multiple check ups throughout the study to monitor their health. 

Fortunately for Melvin, he experienced very few side effects and explained that “for me I felt like a chemo fake as I have had no side effects from the trial treatment allowing me to live a totally normal life, even to climbing Kilimanjaro at 62.” 

What would you say to someone thinking about taking part in research? 

Taking part in research is a big decision, and it is personal for everybody. Melvin describes how his involvement has allowed him to meet a lot of different people, all who view their conditions and treatment plans in a different way. Melvin encourages others to really understand what their options are when it comes to taking part in research. His experience has been “very positive” and he emphasises how he could have experienced “a lot more side effects” if he had gone down the standard treatment route.

Melvin is looking forward to getting involved in more research, and currently is in talks with his consultant regarding taking part in a FLAIR follow-up trial, STATIC, later this year.