The Next Breakthrough Could Be Yours

Clinical trials offer patients access to promising new treatments that might not be available anywhere else. Find out what our patients have to say about their experiences participating in clinical trials and how the treatments being tested have offered them hope and healing.

Ted Kopacko

a man in jeans and loose black leather jacket leans forward, smiling broadly, while sitting on an exam chair in an exam room 

Ted Kopacko was first diagnosed with marginal zone lymphoma in 2013 after going to the doctor to check on his extreme fatigue and weight loss. Thus began the journey of trying to find the right therapies. Some worked for six months, and others had more long-lasting success, but the cancer kept coming back.

A Marine veteran, the VA referred Kopacko to Hollings in 2023 where he met Brian Hess, M.D. Kopacko was not doing well at their initial meeting, and because there were no standard of care treatments remaining that were good options for him, he was a great candidate for a clinical trial Hess was about to launch to test a version of CAR-T cell therapy using 'purified' CAR-T cells.

“I had read about clinical trials and kind of already knew that I wanted to do something extra. And if there was an opportunity for me to get rid of this for a few years, then let's try it. I was for it," Kopacko said.

When the trial started in Jan. 2024, Kopacko was the first patient. He had a tremendous response, and both he and the second patient in the trial have shown complete remission with fewer side effects. The results are so promising that the National Cancer Institute has awarded Hess and his research partner, Shikhar Mehrotra, Ph.D., a $3.2 million grant to expand the trial from 10 to 30 to 35 patients.

Read Ted's story

Wanda Suggs

a woman sits on a wooden bench in her backyard with a Chihuahua on her lap

The next time you find yourself at a Friday night dock party at Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp, singing along to Lowcountry band Wildflower Station’s rendition of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” take a look at singer Wanda Suggs.

You'll see a woman who loves singing, who met her husband while bowling and doesn’t let him win, who put a pool table in her front room so her nephews would have an activity besides video games when they came over, who put in a solid 36 years with the U.S. Postal Service and who is living a fairly normal life – despite multiple myeloma – because of a clinical trial at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

“I know it's cancer, but I’ve had many friends go through breast cancer, and their chemo is just so bad,” she said. “And I've been blessed because mine hasn’t been like that.”

Read Wanda's story

Tony Pesavento

Tony Pesavento stands outside with a garden path behind him

After multiple treatments for recurring laryngeal cancer were unsuccessful, Marine veteran Tony Pesavento enrolled in a Phase I clinical trial testing a new drug combination for advanced cancers. That proved to be the decisive factor in his battle against cancer and he remains cancer free ever since completing the trial in early 2019.

“I’m living proof that if cancer research didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t be here. That’s why I believe it’s important to continue conducting research to keep discovering more modernized ways to combat cancer and any other number of diseases.”

Read Tony's story

Kerry Hardy

Hardy and his wife, Beth, dancing

When Kerry Hardy was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2015, he wondered if he’d get to see his children graduate college, get married, and have children of their own. After putting out feelers to find the best doctors and treatments available, Hardy sought care from Hollings.

Thanks to an immunotherapy clinical trial, his tumor shrunk by nearly 30%, and he has now been stable for several years. He was able to serve as the best man in his son’s wedding — a day many doctors never expected he’d get to see.

“To say I’m ecstatic is an understatement. If you could see me, you’d never know that I have been sick.”

Read Kerry’s story

Clinical Trials Search

Our patients have access to over 200 clinical trials that target virtually every type of cancer.