Facing Cancer with Courage

626 800 Shefali Sabharanjak

A quick estimate suggests that by the year 2030, every person will know of another person suffering from cancer or would have lost someone to the disease. This is because between 2012 and 2030, the number of cancer cases, worldwide is set to increase by a whopping 50 %!
The maximum number of new cancer cases will be recorded in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. There is a silver lining to the cloud though! More and more people are becoming aware of the causes of cancer and the risk factors that tip the scales in favor of development of the disease. There are highly specific and very, very effective new drugs available to fight cancer. Not only are there new drugs, there are tests available that can help a doctor choose the right drug for the right patient, without any guesswork involved. There are new tests that use a simple blood sample to understand whether a patient’s cancer is getting controlled or whether it has escaped from chemotherapy. There are tests to help doctors decide whether a cancer is hereditary or whether it has developed by chance. These results and decisions that can be taken based on these results can actually shape the therapeutic outcome of the patient. An added bonus is the determination of cancer risk for the rest of the family.

The heartening fact is that all these new tricks and tools ARE actually working for cancer patients!
Take the case of Mrs. Meena Nandal. She suffered from ovarian cancer and was prescribed chemotherapy. When the cancer recurred, she lost all hope of recovery. However, her doctor suggested that she should undergo a germline test to determine if her ovarian cancer was hereditary or not. Additionally, her brother and sister also underwent the same genetic test in order to help understand the pattern of inheritance and prevalence of risk in the family.
Although, Mrs. Nandal had a genetic mutation that was not very well-known, prior to her test, the collective analysis helped establish the conclusion that she as well as her siblings carry a genetic mutation that puts them at high risk for cancer. He oncologist was able to use this information and prescribe a new generation drug, called a PARP inhibitor, in addition to chemotherapy, for her. This new drug has helped to improve her quality of life, tremendously, on maintenance therapy.
You can watch her story here.

Another courageous cancer warrior is Ms. Dimple Bawa. She developed a highly aggressive form of breast cancer- Triple Negative Breast Cancer, or TNBC for short. The occurrence of TNBC is an internationally mandated criterion for genetic testing. Accordingly, when her DNA sample was analysed at Strand, a hereditary mutation in the BRCA1 gene was found. She fought cancer courageously, underwent mastectomy as well as breast reconstruction surgery and is now committed to supporting other cancer survivors in their journey.

Our Liquid biopsy tests have assured Mr. Suneet Varma* (not his real name) that his colon cancer is gone and he can remain stress-free as long as a periodic liquid biopsy test does not show traces of cancer DNA in his blood.

Another courageous cancer fighter is a doctor who underwent pre-emptive genetic testing, when one of her cousins was diagnosed with recurrent ovarian cancer. The doctor had a BRCA1 mutation in her DNA that increased her personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer. In addition to determining her own personal risk for these cancers, she also underwent preventive surgeries, like Angelina Jolie did, to have her breast and ovarian tissues removed. She has managed to save herself from hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, because she chose to take a predictive genetic test.

There are more such stories of courage shown by cancer patients, here. You can also talk to our qualified genetic counsellors (just call 1-800-1022-695 to to make an appointment) to understand more about genetic testing and about hereditary cancers as well.

AUTHOR

Shefali Sabharanjak

All stories by: Shefali Sabharanjak