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Unique cancer treatment saves woman

May 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local woman had a breast cancer so aggressive, she could see it on her skin. She didn't have much hope until doctors offered her a unique treatment.Fitness instructor Stephanie Grimes is the picture of strength and balance.

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She rarely gets sick, but in 2006 something she thought was an unusual mosquito bite on her chest ended up being an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. Doctors told her that it was a severe case.

"They told me that it was one of the most severe cases of breast cancer that they had seen," explains Grimes.

The cancer had literally eaten through her chest wall and eventually caused a large open wound.

"At that point I had been given about two months to live," said Grimes.

The disease had spread to her lymph nodes. At this point, standard treatment wouldn't help.

"Chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer is not curative," said Oncologist John Glaspy, MD.

Dr. Glaspy at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center suggested the an experimental drug therapy combination of Herceptin and Avastin.

"The thing that made her cancer really aggressive also gave us a target," explains Dr. Glaspy.

The drugs target proteins that feed the cancer. Within the first few weeks, Stephanie saw her lumps start to disappear.

"They had shrunk tremendously. Externally I could see changes occurring right away," said Grimes.

And except for a little fatigue, she hardly felt any side effects. Two years after she was told she had two months to live, Stephanie's prognosis is very hopeful.

Stephanie's tumor before herceptin and avastin was a substantial size, but after her treatment it shrunk significantly.

"Things are going very well and they may go well indefinitely," said Dr. Glaspy.

"I am truly blessed with the outcome of the treatment that I am on," said Grimes.

The clinical trial is one of many happening at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. And some of the proceeds from the Revlon Run Walk funds their research.

 

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