August 30, 2019
Swollen leg, back pain, fatigue – Alexis Delaney’s symptoms were certainly a concern, but not a cause for alarm.
Then, in July 2014, her doctor delivered the news she had stage 4 lung cancer. He told her she had about a year to live, and that chemotherapy would not extend her life.
“It blew me away,” says Alexis, a nonsmoker who exercises and eats well. Lung cancer was nowhere on her radar.
Alexis began to put her affairs in order and say goodbye to her children. And then a close friend convinced her to get a second opinion at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. She met with medical oncologist Chao Huang, MD, who specializes in head and neck and lung cancer.
“That’s when I began to think I could live through this,” she confides.
A tumor biopsy revealed that Alexis had a mutation that made her a candidate for a targeted biological NIB therapy: Only 1 in 7% of stage 4 cancer patients qualifies for the tumor-targeted therapy.
“I hugged Dr. Huang when I found out. I was just so used to getting bad news,” she says.
Unlike chemotherapy that attacks all dividing cells, targeted cancer therapies interfere with specific molecules – tumor markers – involved in cancer cell growth and survival. For Alexis, that means taking a pill twice a day with an additional medicine to prevent blood clots, a side effect of the targeted therapy.
In mid-November 2014, Alexis received the best possible news. Since starting treatment in early September, her tumor has been reduced by 50%.
“I may never be cancer-free, but for the life I am living right now I am eternally grateful,” says Alexis, who works full-time and surrounds herself with family and friends.
She credits her entire team – family, friends and physicians – for empowering her to fight and maintain a positive attitude.
“I have an unbelievable team of people working in a comprehensive way to support me,” she says. “I’m blessed a million times over.”
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