Buddy Check 3: Branson woman shares on her recovery from Metastatic Breast Cancer; doctors discuss new treatments
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Buddy Check 3, on this third day of the month is all about reminding you and your loved ones to troubleshoot breast cancer. It’s a message especially near and dear to the hearts of breast cancer survivors.
We haven’t talked much about Metastatic Breast Cancer, where the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Historically it has meant no more treatment options. But that has changed dramatically in the last few years.
Now, many patients are living life to fullest with a new way of managing the disease.
Deidre McCormick says she’s doing well, living the good life the best she can. Deidre is a familiar face around Branson. She grew up there, worked to promote the tourist town, and is now Marketing Director at Tanger Mall. She says she’s been lucky to be able to continue to work.
Seven years ago, Deidre hit a bump in the road with a Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis. But with chemo and a lumpectomy, life soon got back to normal.
Then, three years ago, lab tests prompted a cat scan and showed Deidre’s breast cancer was back and had spread to the bone.
“I had lesions in my bones from my skull to my knees and between my shoulders,” Deidre recalled.
It was the kind of test result that used to be an immediate terminal diagnosis. Now, doctors are using combinations of drugs, new and old, to stabilize the cancer so much that there can be no evidence of disease.
According to Oncologist, Dr. Roger Holden, “It’s very exciting to be able to see patients that 5-6 years ago you would tell them there’s nothing else. Now we’re getting treatment behind treatment. We have options that provide a good quality of life and extend their lives for years.”
Patients like Deidre are on medicines customized to their type of tumor. Dr. Holden says doctors take a piece of the tumor, analyze it, sequence it, and look for new mutations. Once they find the new mutations, they can in women with Metastatic Breast Cancer, he says it’s no longer a shotgun approach, but individualized medicine.
For almost three years now, Deidre’s individualized treatment plan has kept her “breast cancer to the bone” controlled. Other medicines strengthen her bones and help with pain and fatigue. It’s a plan Deidre is able to live with, to be with her husband and daughter, her mother and sisters.
Deidre says her experience should also send a message to all breast cancer survivors to stay on top of their own health care. She urges others to continue with checkups and to be vigilant.
Most recently, Deidre had an entirely separate diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer in a very early stage. We’re happy to report between chemo and radiation her prognosis is good.
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