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How Did Stephanie Grimes Fight Deadly Cancer?

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Can you even imagine an ordinary mosquito bite-like abrasion turning into an open-wound and leading to the deadliest cancer type? Well, not only Stephanie Grimes went through it, but she also survived this horrible nightmare.

The Story Of Stephanie Grimes

Stephanie Grimes’s story is shocking and interesting. Calling it the worst case any veteran UCLA oncologist had ever seen. The cancer was rapidly and aggressively growing in the patient. The disease wrapped around her left-breast and then just erupted via her skin.

The Details Of Diagnosis

Breast Cancer was not the only medical condition diagnosed. No, things were not this simple.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/how-did-stephanie-grimes-fight-deadly-cancer/ by Jaya Mckeown on 2021-01-22T02:08:23.525Z

She tested positive for HER-2/neu mutation. Results found it in nearly thirty per cent of the breast cancer cases. That meant she also tested positive for a sub-type. Horrific was the rapid growth and spread of that particular subtype.

In short, she not only had cancer but one of the deadliest types of cancer.

The Patient Profile

Stephanie Grimes at the time of diagnosis was 47 years old. She was a single parent to a 16-year old son, and also an old fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Her Reaction

When diagnosed with cancer, she expressed her feelings in these words. “When I was diagnosed, it knocked me over for a brief second. My first reaction was that I didn’t want to die. Then I thought, ‘Why me? I live a good life, I exercise, I don’t drink. How could this happen to me? But cancer doesn’t pick and choose. It can hit anyone. So I picked myself up and started on the battle.”

There were things Stephanie Grimes didn't know when uttering these words. She will soon have access to some strong weapons which will make her struggles less difficult. It just never occurred to her.

Herceptin - Dr. Dennis Slamon

What could help her fight was molecularly targeted therapy named ‘Herceptin’, as she was tested positive for HER-2? Dr. Dennis Slamon at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center developed this strategy based on his basic and clinical research. The mutation that made Stephanie's case so dangerous was the primary target of Herceptin.

Avastin

There is another new and revolutionary cancer study. In this study, the cancer researchers paired Herceptin with another targeted therapy which was known as Avastin.

So what exactly is Avastin? It is an angiogenesis inhibitor, and here is how it works. It cuts off the blood supply that the tumors need to grow. Without that blood supply, the tumor can neither grow lest spread.

So this was the new and leading-edge approach adopted. In absence of any kind of chemotherapy, the two therapies were given in conjunction. The goals were pretty clear.

The approach is intended to directly target the cancer cells and prevent patients from developing the horrific side effects that come with chemotherapy. These could be hair loss, fatigue, low blood counts, infection, and nausea.

Why Did Stephanie Grimes Want To Avoid Chemotherapy?

She had her fair enough reasons, of course.

She was the sole provider of the family, and she was a single parent. Her concerns were more than genuine.

She was concerned about the reactions that would have come with treatment. Taking days off from her job was something she was not looking for. To be more precise, it was not something she could avoid. It was something she was trying her best to avoid. What if she did not feel well enough to work after she received chemotherapy? What about her teenage son?

She said, “To say the least, things were very dire. I had no idea what the outcome would be.

Meeting With Doctor Slamon

So Stephanie Grimes met Doctor Slamon. He told her that her cancer was 11, on a scale of 10. Usually, patients with this level of Cancer do not have more than a couple of months to live. Also, she was not the candidate for surgery. And as far as the conventional therapies were concerned, they had nothing to offer other than chemotherapy.

Dr. Slamon told Stephanie Grimesabout the revolutionary Herceptin/Avastin clinical trial and recommended her to enrol in the program. Without any hesitation, she agreed.

Here is how she justifies her yes. “This was one battle that I was not going to lose. I knew I had to fight.

The Results

After the surgery, results showed Stephanie Grimes’s cancer no longer existed. What the scans were showing previously was a lumpy mound of tissue. It had no resemblance to a human breast.

After the treatment, it appeared to be a normal tissue with no clue of cancer.

Zero Interruption In Daily Routine

Since there was no traditional chemotherapy, Stephanie Grimes successfully avoided any interruption in her routine. Right after therapy, she was teaching 15 to 16 aerobics classes a week, and back to her gym. The day after her first infusion of Herceptin was just like any other day. Stephanie Grimes was at work at sharp 6 am. She worked all day long.

She says, “This treatment gives me the quality of life. I continue to teach my classes and I can keep up with my son’s heavy schedule. I don’t know that I’d be able to do that if I was on chemotherapy.”

The Success Of Avastin/Herceptin Study

The study represents the next generation of studies researchers are working on at UCLA. Dr. Slamon says that the clinical trials that eliminate chemotherapy show the same and sometimes even better results.

He says, “This is the first study that takes us in that direction and the results are promising. The responses we’ve seen are as good as anything we’ve seen in this group of patients, even with our best chemotherapies.”

Stephanie Grimes Agrees With Him.

She says, “When I was first diagnosed, things looked bleak. But from my first treatment, I saw changes and improvements. It was amazing. I had advanced breast cancer that had spread from my left breast to my right breast and to my lungs. Now I look at myself and I think, this is the definition of the word miracle. I have been given the gift of life and that’s priceless. I’m here today because of this treatment. Saying thank you is not nearly enough.”

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About The Authors

Jaya Mckeown

Jaya Mckeown - Jaya moved to Boston from New York to pursue a master's degree in corporate communications at Emerson College. This experience, combined with her undergraduate degree in psychology and teaching, has equipped her with valuable skills that she employs on a daily basis in real estate negotiations, homebuyer and seller education, and successful promotion of the team's listings. Jaya's clients often characterize her as meticulous, proactive, and enjoyable to be around.

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