Metastatic Lung Cancer Survivor: Christie’s Story

Christie and her oncologist, Dr. Tim Dorius, share how her Caris Molecular Intelligence test provided a personalised approach to treat her lung cancer.

Transcript:

Christie:

I have two wonderful children. I have a daughter who lives in Waverly and she has three kids. My son just lives half a mile down the road, and he has two kids, too. I am married to a wonderful husband Troy. I like to spend time with my grandkids. They come out and we do all sorts of fun stuff. So, I have been very blessed with a wonderful family. They have been very supportive.

It was about four months I went through this back pain. I tried over-the-counter stuff. I went to a chiropractor, physical therapy and neither one of those two things worked.

December 28 of 2018 is when we went in and that is when I found out that I had lung cancer and it had metastasized to my bones, my lymph nodes, my brain, and my liver.

When my daughter and my granddaughter took us to the doctor, he said that I had abnormal growth growing and we needed to find out where the primary source was coming from.

We stopped at my son’s house on the way home and we walked in the door and he knew exactly that it was not good.

It wasn’t good, so my daughter, my son and I just sat there and cried and hugged each other and it was really hard knowing for them that it had spread to all these different parts of my body and I think they felt like mom’s only got three months to live. I just would pray to god that he would heal my body

and if he doesn’t heal my body just let me enjoy what I got, the time I have left.

My initial treatment was a chemo cocktail of two different types of chemo, and then immunotherapy.

Dr. Tim Dorius:

I believe I may have met her in the hospital and at that time she had just come into the hospital and had new diagnosis of brain metastases along with lung masses that we ultimately found out was a metastatic lung cancer. So, that obviously was a pretty trying time for her. Just going through the emotional weight of having that new diagnosis and being able to tell her well yes this is a bad thing but we have some options for you and we’re going to do everything we can within our power to find out what the best treatment for you is.

We always look for those rare mutations and we also look for patients that would be good candidates for immunotherapy.

I immediately sent for next generation sequencing with Caris along with PD-L1 testing. We did find that her PD-L1 level was 100% which indicated that she would be a good candidate for immunotherapy as monotherapy and not even receiving chemotherapy with it.

Christie:

I can’t thank Caris enough for this because I have gone almost two years just by having immunotherapy which I don’t get sick from. I have no side effects whatsoever. I live a normal life, a totally normal life.

If your oncologist hasn’t ordered it, you need to tell them that you want one done or go someplace else. You need to have a molecular study done of your body to know which mutations you have and what’s going to be the best treatment for you.

You know you just don’t jump into something and start giving people chemo cocktails that make them sick when they might not have to do that.

So, with the molecular profiling you don’t have to do that. You might not need to do that so why put your body through that if you don’t have to.

So, as of today, it’s been a year and a half that the tumours in my lymph nodes are completely gone. The tumours in my lungs are gone. The tumour in my right lung is shrinking.

The only activity they’re seeing is a little bit in my bone yet.

Dr. Tim Dorius:

We started immunotherapy. We monitor with CT scans to see if the areas where we knew there was cancer were shrinking and fortunately for her they were.

Christie:

You can’t give up hope and thanks to the molecular profiling there is more hope than what there was before.

Dr. Tim Dorius:

In the case of my patients I always order a broad panel which includes next generation sequencing.

You don’t have to find out how to treat these patients the right way unless you are doing as broad a test as you can.

Christie:

It’s incredible. It is just incredible, seriously. I appreciate things a lot more. I don’t take things for granted like I used to. And I’m a huge hugger. When I hug somebody now, I can feel their love. It’s just a totally different feeling knowing you might not be here tomorrow.

The molecular profiling has been a godsend for us. It truly has been. Like I said I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if it weren’t for that. I know that deep in my heart. I wouldn’t be.

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