UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Winter 2018 2018 Volume XXXIII Number 3 - Page 23

The Journey McArdle began her nursing career in 1986 at the UAB oncology inpatient unit. From there, she worked in outpatient care on the hematology oncology unit in The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital, as a nurse researcher in breast cancer at the School of Nursing, then went into nurse recruitment, briefly stepping out of the realm of oncology. Then, it all changed when McArdle ran into Mansoor Saleh M.D., director of the UAB Phase I Clinical Trials Program. McArdle is now a nurse research manager for the Phase I Program. “I wear many, many hats in my position,” McArdle says with a laugh. “Working with Phase I has been nothing short of a blessing to me, and I am so happy that I ended up here with such a rewarding job.” Working as a Team The Phase I Clinical Trial Program at UAB provides patients who have no conventional cancer therapy options left, and are willing to try first-in-human clinical trials as options in their continuum of care. Now entering its third year, the Phase I Program is fairly new to UAB but is already showing some promising outcomes. “Many of our patients are doing better now with the use of targeted therapies, that is using drugs to more precisely identify and attack cancer cells. When they do well, it really keeps the positivity in the unit.” McArdle is hopeful that the Phase I Program will continue to enhance the treatment options that doctors and nurses can use in caring for patients. “The most exciting thing to me about Phase I is being able to offer the cutting-edge research to patients who sometimes have no other option. These patients come to us looking for what we call ‘a drug called hope,’” says McArdle. McArdle and the Phase 1 clinical team spend a lot of time with their patients monitoring side effects and addressing symptoms. McArdle explains that these patients are often seen a few times a week, giving herself and the clinical team a chance to form great relationships with their patients. “We all work as a team, we are dedicated and compassionate, and we strive to have the highest integrity and provide the best possible support to our patients,” she says. McArdle hopes to provide every patient with something to help them when they are going through their hardest days. Experienced Advice To McArdle, her job is much more than just caring for patients. “Your heart must be in it because there will be good days and bad days.” Even if she plans to finish out her career in oncology, McArdle explains that in her position she is constantly educating herself, studying and reading, as there is always something to learn. “Nursing is a very difficult profession, physically, mentally, and spiritually, but it is extremely rewarding,” she says. “Every day there is something new that I need to know everything about — such as a first-in-human drug, but at the end of the day, if I can do one thing to help these patients, it makes all of the hard days well worth it.” # K N O W U A B C C C • “Every day there is something new that I need to know everything about—such as a first-in-human drug, but at the end of the day, if I can do one thing to help these patients, it makes all of the hard days well worth it.” U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 21