Advancement in HER2+ Treaments
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at the age of 32. I had just finished breastfeeding my second son and noticed a lump in the shower. It turned out that there were 3 aggressive tumors in my breast. I eventually ended up having a bilateral mastectomy and needed chemotherapy because there was some cancer in my lymph nodes. I had biomarker testing of my tumor, and it was HER2+. At that time, there were no targeted treatments for HER2+ breast cancer, and the prognosis was not great. I was able to enroll in a study where I was randomized to receive Herceptin, the first drug available to treat HER2+ breast cancer.
When I had a recurrence a short time later, there were no other targeted treatments for HER2+ breast cancer. I received radiation, followed by hormonal treatments that led to early menopause and unhealthy weight loss. I was finally able to stop these treatments, came out of menopause, and was able to regain a few healthy pounds. Thankfully, I have been free of cancer since that early recurrence.
It’s a huge relief to know that there are now many new treatments available for those who are HER2+. I am a peer supporter at Sharsheret for other women with HER2+ breast cancer, and their prognosis is much better because of all of the targeted treatments that are available. I have had a number of friends who were able to use targeted treatment specifically for recurrences. Sometimes, the biomarkers can change after a period of time, so retesting the tumor can be helpful.
A few years ago, my own mother was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer at the age of 72. What a relief it was to know that she had so many proven treatment options available.
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