Stacey's story: I wish I knew I could store my tumour
Updated: Jan 27
8 years ago, breast cancer thriver Stacey went for her first mammogram at 40 years old. Today, the brave mama shares what she wishes she knew about personalised cancer treatment options. If you or someone you love is affected by cancer, it pays to know that no two tumours are alike, and each contains critical information to your treatment.
After the scan of my breasts, I went home and waited for the results. I didn't think much of it as breast cancer doesn't run in my family. I was called back for more imaging the next day. That's when I was told I most likely had breast cancer and needed to see a surgeon right away.
That week, Stacey found out she had cancer with a biopsy. Luckily, the cancer was caught early. So, the plan was for a lumpectomy and radiation. The surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks later.
Everything went by so fast and I don't think even to this day I really remember how I felt as I just wanted to get it out and over with. I didn't want to take Tamoxifen as it is so toxic, but my cancer was estrogen positive, so my team and I decided I'd have a hysterectomy. I have done a lot of research and found out information I wish I had known 8 years ago.
What I wish I knew before cancer
I would store my tumour tissue and take a more personalised approach to my cancer.
With the stored tissue, I can have diagnostic testing done to find out the genetic markers of my tumour and to find the right targeted drugs to kill my cancer cells. I can also use the tumour to create treatments that activate the immune system to fight the cancer and minimise the chance of relapse.
Every tumour is unique and contains information critical to treatment, but tumours are not preserved alive by hospitals and routinely discarded as medical waste.
In this day and age, there is no reason to settle for the standard of care when there are better or more options out there. You just need to find them and be your own advocate to save your life!
Helping cancer sisters
What many cancer patients don't know, and often times find out too late, is that a live cancer tumour is required in order to design personalised treatment options.
Today, Stacey works for Store My Tumor an organisation dedicated to help cancer patients preserving their tumour or biopsy, which is the first step toward developing personalised effective treatments and can help answering big questions, such as:
Which chemo is my tumour most likely to respond to?
Which one of the thousands of drugs out there may work on my tumour?
Are there any experimental drug/ treatment/clinical trial out there I should consider?
Is there a certain combination that may work better than the standard or one drug?
Which immunotherapy drug/ treatment is available for me?
Thank you Stacey for sharing your experience and insights.
Stacey and Mel