Sherman Oaks, California
Living a Good Life With Stage 4 Breast Cancer Thanks to Palbociclib
I was diagnosed with stage 4, recurrent breast cancer in April 2009. After surgery, I was offered the chance to participate in a phase I clinical trial testing a new drug for exactly the type of breast cancer I had—stage 4 estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer. I jumped at the chance and have been taking palbociclib (Ibrance) and letrozole ever since. Within 9 months of starting the trial, there was no evidence of cancer in my body. My quality of life is extraordinary and I continue to do everything that I want to.
It all started in October 2005, with a phone call from my gynecologist a day or two after my annual mammogram. I was always vigilant and made sure to have annual mammograms because my mother survived breast cancer twice, the first time 40 years ago. My sister also survived breast cancer. I had always assumed that it would eventually be my turn and hoped that the mammograms would detect it early. I was fortunate; the diagnosis turned out to be stage 1 estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer.
Right after my diagnosis, I met with a number of surgeons to learn about the options for my surgery. I chose a surgeon at UCLA because she was able to do reconstruction surgery at the same time as a bilateral mastectomy [surgery to remove all of both breasts]. I was back at work just four weeks after surgery, traveling and living my life.
I then met with an oncologist and started a five-year course of tamoxifen therapy. I also chose to continue having yearly mammograms, even though this was not standard of care at the time, which is lucky because this is how my recurrence was caught.