Mikaela Knapp

Mikaela Knapp, 25, and her husband Keith weren’t your typical newlyweds. The couple met in the 5th grade and began dating in high school, eventually moving across the country together to attend Stanford and Berkeley and marrying shortly after. But that sweet story is overshadowed by what happened last October: Mikaela was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer.

The Knapps then fought around the clock to get Mikaela access to an experimental drug, an anti-PD-1, to treat her aggressive kidney cancer.

Their only hope of gaining access was to coordinate a national public relations campaign to bring awareness to Mikaela’s plight. Every time Keith left to do a TV interview or meet with a company or government official, he knew it could be the last time he saw Mikaela alive.

As the Knapps worked tirelessly to get Mikaela access to a promising new drug that might save her life, every day and every hour mattered. Since the drug she needed hasn’t been fully approved by the FDA, it proved virtually impossible to gain access.

“People die from not being able to access these drugs and I don’t want to be one of them,” Mikaela said. Sadly, she passed away in April.

As the Goldwater Institute’s Right To Try initiative works its way through a number of state legislatures, patients just like Mikaela wait for the opportunity to legally try medicines that could save their lives. Mikaela needed help immediately—not a decade from now when the promising drug is finally approved.

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