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Biomarker testing story

Meryl discovered that her non-small cell lung cancer was ALK-positive.
Boston, MA

We asked Meryl to share her story with Pfizer

We asked Meryl to share her story with Pfizer

My name is Meryl and I’m a two-time lung cancer survivor. Prior to being diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer I had multiple careers - therapist, management consultant and social entrepreneur. For over ten years I consulted with corporations managing downsizings and in 2000 expanded one of the first social media companies to Boston, the first city outside of California. Ever since my first diagnosis of lung cancer I have been involved in the lung cancer community as an advocate, an author and most recently a board member of Uniting Against Lung Cancer. I am also a wife and mother who has an active and healthy lifestyle.

In 2003 after experiencing intermittent chest pain, a family history of heart attacks motivated me to visit the emergency room. I was shocked when doctors found something on my lung and asked me to follow up. As a never smoker, I couldn’t believe when I was found to have lung cancer.

I underwent surgery to remove a lobe of my right lung, followed by chemotherapy. As a result, I became committed to being a patient advocate for research. My oncologist encouraged me to get tested and learn my molecular profile.

In 2009, I tested positive for the anaplastic lymphoma kinase, or ALK, a therapeutic target in cancer present in about 3% - 5% of NSCLC tumors.1

When I was diagnosed with a lung cancer reoccurrence in May 2012 the fact that I had this mutation was considered in my discussions about treatment. Because surgery was possible I had my second lobectomy. This time there wasn’t a need for follow-up treatment but given that it was again ALK, I know that identifying my tumor’s genetic profile could provide me with more treatment options in the future should I need them.

March 2013

1. Garber K. ALK, lung cancer, and personalized therapy: portent of the future? J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010;102:672-675.