Exact Sciences called Suzie to inform her that her insurance would cover the full cost of the test.
When Suzie had a routine mammogram in September 2007, it revealed clustering of micro-calcifications in her breast. After a sonogram and wire localization biopsy, she was diagnosed with both invasive and non-invasive breast cancer.
Suzie, then 63, was floored. A retired university economics professor and administrator, as well as a devotee of rigorous daily exercise, she had never been sick or missed a day of school or work. Knowing that she and her husband were about to leave on a month-long trip abroad, her surgeon started Suzie on hormone therapy before she left.
When she returned, Suzie met with her surgeon to plan her next step. The invasive cancer had been removed during the wire localization biopsy. To remove the non-invasive cancer, Suzie and her surgeon decided on a mastectomy and removal of the sentinel lymph nodes. This way, she was able to avoid radiation and its potential side effects.
“The Oncotype DX assay was a gift to me.”
After the mastectomy, her surgeon told Suzie that she seemed to be a good candidate for the Oncotype DX assay, which could help guide her chemotherapy decision and which could be performed on the original biopsy specimen of her invasive cancer. Suzie researched the test online and was determined to ask her oncologist about it.
When she met her oncologist several days later, Suzie was pleasantly surprised to learn that her oncologist had already ordered the test after carefully reviewing her file. More good news soon followed: Within a few days, Exact Sciences called Suzie to inform her that her insurance would cover the full cost of the test.
Less than a week later, Suzie received the best news of all. Her oncologist called to tell her that her Recurrence Score result was an 8, meaning that chemotherapy would likely be of little benefit, so her oncologist recommended against it. “I was elated,” Suzie said.
Suzie will be taking hormone therapy for at least 5 years. “I have hot flashes and night sweats from the hormone therapy,” Suzie said. “My friends and family laugh when I pull my sweater off in the middle of dinner, but I am able to do everything I did before.” In fact, Suzie and her husband spend a good deal of time sailing and take their boat to the Bahamas every other year. She also enjoys scuba diving, walking, running and cycling.
“The Oncotype DX assay was a gift to me,” she said. “Oh, I think daily about having cancer, but my test results give me great peace of mind regarding the possibility of recurrence.”
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