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Breast Cancer

Twelve years ago, Jan Sharp was diagnosed with breast cancer after going in for a routine
mammogram. Her physician recommended a complete mastectomy; however, she knew there had to be other options.   Thankfully for her, one of those “options” is a life-saving test, known as an assay, and she found it at Rational Therapeutics.

“I am extremely grateful to the luck that brought me to Dr. Robert Nagourney at Rational Therapeutics,” said Jan.

Jan’s first surgery was a lumpectomy on her left breast with clear margins. Her surgeon suggested radiation, which she declined with the support of her radiologist. She did very well for five years; unfortunately, after a stressful period in her life, another large tumor appeared. She returned to her surgeon, who operated again. Twice, in fact, all the affected lymph nodes were not removed with the first surgery. She followed up with her oncologist and was prescribed a combination of Adriamycin, Taxotere and radiation.

The therapy worked for a while, but the cancer returned. Her oncologist put her back on Taxotere, and referred her to a clinical trial at UCLA. They were developing a new drug, for Pfizer, targeted at Jan’s type of cancer case. “They brought the clinical trial start date forward to accommodate me,” said Jan. The drug worked well for almost two years. “Then a large tumor appeared on the right side of my neck, which did not respond,” said Jan.  Her surgeon refused to operate again; however, within hours of boarding a plane to Sydney, Australia for the surgery, he changed his mind.

This tumor was even bigger than before. She was started on an oral course of Xeloda; unfortunately, she developed a “tarantula-like” flare up in several sites on the chest wall, in the lining of her lungs and an 11cm tumor on her neck. They prescribed Navelbine, which worked for a while; however, this time Jan insisted her oncologist look at chemo-sensitivity testing.

In May 2010, she had a biopsy to remove the tumor on her sternum, and sent a tissue sample to Robert Nagourney, MD, at Rational Therapeutics for analysis. “I was determined to survive,” said Jan. The results of her assay test revealed the right combination of drugs for her and today, she is doing well.

“Dr. Nagourney is not only dedicated, he loves his work, his enthusiasm is infectious and most importantly for me, so reassuring. I have complete faith in Dr. Nagourney, and felt  completely comfortable being under his care.”

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