Bill could give terminally ill patients hope

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A bill passed by Missouri lawmakers is meant to give terminally ill patients one last shot. Supporters of the "Right to Try" law say it could bring new hope to those left with none. It passed unanimously through the state legislature this past session, and now awaits the governor's approval.

The bill's backers say it could save lives. One of them, lobbyist and father of two young boys, Ross Nichols, is battling a stage 4 brain tumor. He learned the news eight months ago.

"That day was awful. It's hard to hear that," said Nichols.

Even harder for Nichols to hear, was the normal prognosis for his condition, which is 24 months.

"My number one job right now is being a dad. And so [I'll do] whatever I can do to extend that," said Nichols.

Right now, his oral chemotherapy seems to be working. But if it stops, he says he will try anything.

"You get pretty, I don't want to say desperate but I mean desperate is probably not a terrible word, when you're in a situation like mine," said Nichols.

So, he testified in favor of the "Right to Try" bill. It allows patients who have exhausted all FDA-approved options to try experimental treatments, even if they've only cleared the first phase of testing. Doctors at Siteman Cancer Center say this is a good thing, because right now, medical research and technology is moving faster than the approval process.

Opponents say the bill weakens the testing process, which was put in place for a purpose. But, Nichols says if his situation gets dire, there's no reason he shouldn't have the right to try.

"When you're in a situation like me, hope is really all you have left. So you sit and just pray you stay alive long enough that they find something that can help you," said Nichols.

Missouri is one of three states where lawmakers have passed a "Right to Try" bill this year. In Arizona, the issue will go to a public vote in November. Missouri's legislation was sponsored by Rep. Jim Neely. He is a physician with a close connection to the cause. Is daughter is currently battling terminal illness.


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