Jane* had always followed the medical guidelines, so at age 40, she started her annual mammogram screenings.
In March of 2009, right before her 57th birthday, Jane went in for what she thought was just another routine screening. In this screening, a small tumor was detected in her breast tissue. After a biopsy following the detection, Jane learned the life-changing diagnosis – she had breast cancer.
As a former nurse practitioner turned executive at a biotech firm, Jane was keen to conduct her own research following her diagnosis. Having been so close to various diseases over her career in a professional sense, Jane began sifting through scientific literature and learning more about the space she was entering as a breast cancer patient, and then subsequently, as a breast cancer survivor. After receiving a negative BRCA1 and BRCA2 result, Jane heard of the Army of Women’s study about the KRAS-variant and MiraKind’s first study in collaboration with the Susan Love Foundation. As a supporter of clinical research due to her prolific career, Jane was inclined to participate.
Upon study participation, she also opted to receive her results about her KRAS-variant status through MiraKind, where she learned she was KRAS-variant positive.
Jane was fascinated to learn more about the KRAS-variant, not only for herself, but also so she could bring more information to her medical providers. In 2015, sometime after learning of her positive KRAS-variant status, Jane came across information from MiraKind regarding how remaining on Hormone Replacement Therapy has proven to be protective against cancer development for women with the KRAS-variant (McVeigh et al., 2014).
Hearing this, Jane was quite shocked and wanted to know more so she contacted MiraKind’s Founder, Dr. Joanne Weidhaas, and set up a brief phone call. Jane found herself talking with Dr. Weidhaas about her experiences with her disease and diagnosis for over an hour and a half – a conversation that still resonates with her today. Speaking further with Dr. Weidhaas helped Jane understand how her medical history of breast cancer, as well as endometriosis, is likely linked to her KRAS-variant status.
The conversation also helped her to bring forth knowledge to her own doctors as she noted, “Talking to Joanne helped me ask my doctors to think about treating me in a different way than they would have. I got to make suggestions for myself that were scientifically appropriate.” As we gain more insights into how the KRAS-variant predicts cancer risk and can guide the management of cancer, Jane and others in her circumstance can be equipped with even more information to share with their providers.
March 2019 marks a decade since Jane first learned of her breast cancer diagnosis.
As the time has passed, Jane reflected on the many important lessons she has learned since, one of which is that there are usually options for you and it’s important to take the time to learn more about them. “The diagnosis is so shocking at first and feels like an emergency. I felt that I had to make decisions right away. But, you do get through it. You come out the other end and you gain a different perspective on it.” Jane has bravely chosen to pursue new knowledge and spread the knowledge she has gained as part of her fight against cancer. Jane truly embodies the resiliency, persistence, and strength of the MiraKind community.
*Name has been changed to respect the identity of this individual.
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Excellent info and very useful. I lost my wife vathsala on 9 june 2021. 500 gene panel study done here in Bangalore , India did show KRAS variant. she underwent thyroidectomy on 20 january 2021. Histopathology showed anaplastic carcinoma of thyroid. Second, third and fourth tests were also done and also immunohistochemistry. Fourth test stated that anaplastic carcinoma arising in background of follicular carcinoma. Tomotherapy 29 fractions if 2GY were given from 20 February 2021 to 2and April 2021. Expired on 9 june 2021 in ICU due to lung infection and carcinoma.