This mom with a rare form of cancer can't get treatment she needs due to government shutdown

Michelle Langbehn. Photo: Natural Grace Photography, via Washington Post

Michelle Langbehn has a rare form of cancer that affects about 1% of U.S. cancer patients. She was diagnosed in April 2012, shortly after giving birth to her daughter. She was 29.

She spoke to the Washington Post about how the government shutdown has affected her. The short version: she can't get the life-saving treatment she needs; a clinical trial that provides an option in a case where other more well-established treatment protocols have failed.

The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff explains:

After nine months of chemotherapy, she and her doctor began looking into other potential treatment options, including a trial at the National Institutes of Health. Langbehn began filling out the paperwork to apply last month. Things were going well until late September, when she got a call from the NIH: If the government shut down, the trial would not accept new patients. Now, she is among an estimated 200 patients turned away each week from clinical trials there. Langbehn has started a petition asking the government to re-open the treatment option.
“This was not supposed to happen. Nobody wanted the shutdown to happen," says Langbehn. "If I had a message, it would be that lives are at stake.”

“This is a matter of life or death. I’m not just doing this for myself. There are 200 people that are trying to get into clinical trials each week. I want to speak for all of us.”

"People don’t want to be enrolled because they're doing well," Langbehn says. "They’re looking because of something that's wrong. For them to have that taken away, it almost makes you want to lose hope in a way."

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