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Biomarker testing story

Zheng discovered her non-small cell lung cancer was EGFR-positive.
San Francisco, CA

We asked Zheng to share her story with Pfizer

We asked Zheng to share her story with Pfizer

My name is Zheng, and I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) two and a half years ago when I was performing for the San Francisco Opera. On opening night of the Bonesetter’s Daughter, I fell on stage, but as a seasoned performer, I ignored the pain and continued to sing. After a month or two, the pain became unbearable and I saw my doctor. An MRI revealed a shadow on my lung and a CT scan showed the disease had metastasized to my bones, brain, and liver.

Although I hadn’t known it at the time, the fall on stage saved my life because it led to my diagnosis. I immediately began treatment, receiving radiation followed by a targeted therapy. A month later, my tumors shrank by 50% and I continued treatment for over a year until I developed resistance.

After trying a few other options, my oncologist decided that I should receive molecular testing to determine which clinical trials may be the best fit for me. I agreed and, through testing, discovered I was EGFR-positive.

Based on this knowledge, my oncologist recommended I enroll in a trial specific to my type of lung cancer, which required me to first go back on my previous targeted therapy. When I started that treatment again, I was amazed to learn that my cancer responded and my tumors were shrinking. I continued to take this medication until my cancer again developed resistance. I am now preparing to begin a treatment under investigation for my specific subtype of lung cancer.

I have a mixture of good days and bad days, but I continue to practice singing and am surrounded by a strong support system, including my friends, family, and the opera community. Throughout my journey, I have met wonderful people, including my husband, who was my first radiation oncologist. Over the years, I’ve become involved in patient advocacy work and am passionate about learning everything I can about lung cancer. I also sang for a lung cancer conference gala and surprised the audience of researchers when it was announced that I was a stage IV lung cancer patient, showing that lung cancer can impact anyone. By sharing my story, I hope I can provide some inspiration and support to others fighting this disease so they know they aren’t alone on this path.

October 2011