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Biomarker testing story

Laura was prescribed a biomarker-directed therapy for her EGFR-positive Stage IIIB/IV lung caner.
Laura
Biomarker: 
EGFR-positive
Hometown: 
Dallas, TX

We asked Laura to share her story with Pfizer

We asked Laura to share her story with Pfizer

I’m Laura and I’m a graphic designer and artist from Dallas, Texas. I love to bike ride, garden, and travel.

I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB/IV adenocarcinoma of my left lung in December of 2007. I started chemo right away. There was initial tumor shrinkage, but then it stopped working. Luckily, my family did a lot of research. One of my best friends is a medical doctor in Texas, and another best friend's father is a biochemist in Oklahoma. My doctor friend mentioned that if I knew which genetic mutation I had in the lung, I may have additional treatment options for my cancer. So we had tissue from my biopsy sent to my friend's father's lab in Oklahoma, where one of his staff ran a genetic test looking for mutations. They sent the sequence back, which highlighted the abnormal areas. The report showed a mutation in the EGFR gene.

By knowing my specific type of genetic mutation in my cancer cells, I became confident in knowing the appropriate treatment options for my type of cancer when it stopped responding to chemo. I've been on a biomarker-directed therapy drug for some time now. Though I know that there is a risk of a second mutation or “break through,” I get regular CT scans each year to keep an eye on things, and I know there are 2nd and 3rd generation drugs being developed.

These days, I continue to participate in the activities I love; I try to pace myself and not let my disease slow me down. I enjoy volunteering for events like bike riding and have gotten involved in the lung cancer community by sharing my story with others. The more I keep moving, the better I feel.

My advice to others in this situation is to do your research about your diagnosis. Don't give up and keep pushing to find a course of treatment that works best for your cancer. Knowing your genetic type can help steer you in the right direction.

Remember, though the statistics for lung cancer are extremely grave and scary, you are not a statistic. Every case is unique and you can find hope in being well-informed and educated about your body.

March 2012