Is There Hope With a Late Stage Cancer Diagnosis?

by GregP_WN

A late stage cancer diagnosis (stage III or IV) is not what you want to hear, but it might not be as bad as you might have heard. With recent advances made in treatments, surgery, and other options, people are beating these type of diagnoses more than ever before. 

At WhatNext, we have lots of people that fall into this category, here are two of them.

LiveWithCancer 

Live With Cancer With Dog Barney In Santa Fe 2014

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LiveWithCancer - "I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 10/2012. I wasn't a candidate for radiation or surgery; chemotherapy was my only option. My oncologist told us that I probably had about 4 months to live.

I underwent chemo treatments (carboplatin, Alimta, and Avastin for 4 cycles; Avastin only for 4 cycles). My cancer responded while I was receiving the chemo, but as soon as it was stopped, the tumors grew back to their original size.

My doctor suggested I consider a clinical trial. I began participating in a trial in 7/2013. I didn't know it at the time, but I was being given Opdivo or nivolumab, an immunotherapy. My tumors immediately responded to the immunotherapy. They have not gone away, but they have been stable since I started the trial. "

This treatment was given a lot of press recently with President Carter's recent bout with stage IV melanoma and his rapid progress to reach NED (No Evidence of Disease)

"This drug has given my life back to me. I don't so much have a new "normal" or "reality." To a large extent, I have been able to reclaim my life that I had prior to my diagnosis! My favorite things to do are play agility with my dogs, work on my photography skills, advocate for cancer awareness and increased funding, and play on WhatNext, hopefully offering support and hope to other cancer survivors."

Read "LiveWithCancer"'s profile page and her complete cancer journey here, at WhatNext

Sue-Rae1

Sue Rae!

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SueRae1 says "As of my last set of scans I am still in remission for both Stage IV renal Cell Carcinoma and Stage IV TNBC.

I was diagnosed with the renal cell, in July 2009, at that time several Drs told me I would be lucky if I live for a year. My oncologist said "I know that people will tell you, you have a year to live, but I don't believe that, you're different, and here's why" he told me that the length of time since my stage 1 diagnosis (14 years) and mastitis was unusually long and that the way the cancer spread was atypical, and caught early. 8 very small lesions between 2-9 mm each. The oral chemo he put me on First Sutent and then Afinitor, shrunk the lesions on my liver. I have 3 shadows, that have not changed size in over 3 years, we are not sure if it's scars or quiescent, but it's all good.

I was diagnosed with stage 1 TNBC in Sept 2010 - My breast oncologist was more worried about my Kidney Cancer prognosis, especially since on was then on my Afinitor, which at that time was not considerd as effective as Sutent, then in treating my small breast tumor (8mm) . We eventually did a lumpectomy (no nodes removed) and radiation treatment. I was lucky that Afinitor was comparable with the radiation treatment.

In early May 2012 I new lesion was discovered on my lesion the pathology report came back Stage IV TNBC. I was put on Infusion treatment for both cancers at that point. It was very aggressive, It shrunk my TNBC lesion, as well as get rid of one of the 4 remaining Kidney cancer lesions, and shrunk the other 3.
Week 1: Gemcitabine, Carboplatin, and Avastin
Week 2: Gemcitabine, Carboplatin

The Avastin was for the Kidney cancer. This treatment lasted through the first week of Jan 2013. At this point, my platelets and other blood counts were in the gutter. So I got to rest - my lesions remained stable, and when my counts improved in March of 2013 I was put in a clinical trial for TNBC that used Erlotinib and Metformin -

I developed an allergy to Metformin and was pulled from the trial in May. At which point the TNBC lesion on my liver shrunk a bit more and the Kidney cancer lesions remained. Stable. My follow up scans in July showed that my TNBC lesion had shrunk down to 7 mm. 3 scans later in was gone. with no additional treatment.

In addition to seeing my oncologists, I got 2nd opinions throughout my treatment. The 2nd opinion Dr. I was with when I was diagnosed with TNBC suggested genetic testing of my cancers, which my primary oncologist did, I was the first patient in New York State to have this done. She also recommended I have additional genetic testing, for me, as I was negative for all BRACA mutation. and I was one of the first people to have a BreastNext genetic panel. At this point they could find no known mutations."

As of today, SueRae is doing great and is one more example of "cancer patients don't have expiration dates". You CAN beat a stage III or stage IV diagnosis. 

If you need support, motivation and inspiration go to WhatNext and register. Within minutes you can be reading the first hand experiences of others that have been down the same path as you. And, you can share your experiences to inspire others. 

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