Buddy Check 7: The role of clinical trials

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 7:15 PM CST
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Marshfield Clinic currently has more than 120 open clinical trials, 13 of which involve breast cancer.

"The beauty of research is, that we learn regardless of what the outcome is," oncology research nurse Stephanie Engelien explained.

Engelien made a career move several years ago after finding out her sister had cancer.

"It's unfortunate that not everybody is a success story, but there is a lot to be learned from people that aren't necessarily completely successful," she said.

Engelien works with a team at Marshfield Clinic to match patients with clinical trials.

"A clinical trial can be for actual treatment for cancer. It could be for symptom management. Or, it can be collecting information like financial information or psycho-social, you know, seeing how people are going through...what support they need that way," she explained.

Each trial has its own set of eligibility criteria.

Nurse practitioner and cancer survivor, Jessica Engel, also works closely with patients to locate available trials. Her own experience lends a unique layer of empathy.

"Having cancer is no fun, but I think the more people that you talk to, the more of us will say, things like, 'you try to find the silver lining or you try to find the good in what you have.' I think this is one of those ways that I've tried to find something positive that I can do with the experience," she said.

A list of open clinical trials across the country, can be found here: