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By Christie Bevington
Sharing my story…in hopes of helping others
I was always a busy, healthy person. I love to take motorcycle road trips, tend to my 17 chickens, host frequent backyard barbecues and carry my grandchildren around as often as possible.
Two years ago, at age 56, I began experiencing intense back pain. As I rarely sit still, my husband and I thought perhaps my active lifestyle finally caught up to me. However, the pain persisted and eventually I needed to see a doctor.
An unexpected diagnosis
For months I met with doctors and took a cocktail of over-the-counter treatments to manage my pain. I even tried physical therapy to relieve the aches. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind.
My symptoms continued to worsen until I could hardly lift my legs or dress myself in the morning. At that point, I went for an MRI scan of my back. By the time I arrived home from the appointment, I already had a message on my machine from the doctor’s office requesting I come in the next day.
At the follow-up appointment, I expected confirmation that I had a slipped disc. What I received instead was a cancer diagnosis. My doctors uncovered I had stage 4 lung cancer, which already spread to my bones, lymph nodes, brain and liver.
I expected the worst after I received the news. However, I want to let others know there is hope. I still do the things I love. I still ride my motorcycle, tend to my chickens and hold my family tight. How, you ask?
Have you heard the term “molecular profiling”?
As I prepared to begin a multi-drug therapy, my family encouraged me to get a second opinion. That oncologist sent my lab results to Caris Life Sciences® for a full molecular profiling report.
What is molecular profiling? It’s a type of testing that’s also known as tumor genomic profiling. I personally never heard of it before my illness.
The molecular profiling tests classify tumors based on genetic make-up to help diagnose and treat cancer. These reports allow cancer treatment to be guided by personalized medicine or precision oncology, meaning your care is specific to you and your diagnosis.
Health is never a one-size-fits-all situation; cancer treatment is no different.
The molecular profiling test identified the best treatment option for my cancer based on the specific type of mutations in my body. As a result, I did not need chemotherapy.
Based on the comprehensive, personalized results in my report, my second oncologist identified immunotherapy as the best treatment option for me. These findings helped me start on the right cancer therapy versus cycling through other treatment options to find a fit. I highly recommend that anyone grappling with a cancer diagnosis ask their doctor about molecular profiling.
How am I doing today?
The molecular profiling report saved me precious time, a luxury others living with cancer may not get. And, as cancer treatment can be incredibly costly, this type of testing helps eliminate some financial stress as you may avoid unnecessary steps and subsequent costs.
Almost two years after my initial cancer diagnosis, I am now managing my disease well and living a normal life. My experience with cancer made me appreciate things a lot more, like spending time with my extended family.
Understanding my molecular profile undoubtedly saved my life. In my opinion, a molecular profiling report is a no-brainer if diagnosed with cancer. I feel strongly all oncologists should provide one. Without these findings, I don’t know that I would be sharing my story today in hopes of helping others.
Disclosure: The information contained in this post is the opinion of the author and not intended as medical advice. Please see your physician to discuss your health concerns and treatment options.
About the author:
Christie Bevington is the Chief Operating Officer at Nebraska Realtors Association in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is also a wife, mother, grandmother and stage 4 lung cancer survivor. Christie enjoys riding her motorcycle, tending to her 17 chickens and hosting backyard barbecues for her family.
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