She was relieved when her Recurrence Score result of 17 indicated that she had a relatively low risk of her cancer returning.
Laurie, a published non-fiction author and Harvard-trained anthropologist, was no stranger to cancer, having survived Stage IIIB non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1977 at the age of 27. Back then, Laurie was treated with radiation and a lengthy course of chemotherapy.
However, that did little to ease the shock when an annual mammogram came back abnormal in November 2005. "In my gut, I knew it was cancer again," Laurie, now 58, said. A biopsy confirmed her suspicions.
Laurie already had an oncologist she trusted, and he enlisted a surgeon and radiologist. Because Laurie had previously undergone radiation therapy, her medical team was unsure if a lumpectomy was a viable option. Fortunately, the team tracked down medical records from three decades prior and was able to administer radiation therapy in such a way that Laurie was able to have a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. Because her margins were not clear after the first surgery, Laurie underwent two surgeries.
“Given my history, going through chemo again would have been terribly risky.”
She began hormonal therapy right away but wanted to avoid chemotherapy because she had previously received chemotherapy for her lymphoma. "Given my history, going through chemo again would have been terribly risky," Laurie said.
Her oncologist recommended using the Oncotype DX assay to determine the likely benefit Laurie would obtain from chemotherapy. She was relieved when her Recurrence Score result of 17 indicated that she had a relatively low risk of her cancer returning. With these results, Laurie, in close consultation with her oncologist, opted to forgo chemotherapy. "There are so few resources that can give you that degree of guidance, direction and information to make your treatment decisions," Laurie said. "I felt like science was really taking care of me."
Laurie has completed radiation therapy and is in a five-year course of hormonal therapy. An avid hiker, long-distance swimmer and tai-chi practitioner, she remains very physically active.
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