A native of Colorado, this adventurous spirit moved with her husband to Alaska where they served at the Skwentna checkpoint for the Iditarod competition held each year.
The Iditarod is a dogsled race that commemorates the 1925 “Great Race of Mercy” that brought lifesaving diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome to save Eskimo children whose lives were in danger from this disease.
It is fitting that Cyndy should stop at our "checkpoint" for lifesaving care.
Cyndy's saga began in 2011 when she underwent surgery for triple negative breast cancer and 4 of 18 lymph nodes were positive. She received radiation to avoid recurrence.
She remained well until 2013 when a chest wall recurrence was documented by biopsy at Duke University in North Carolina.
After receiving initial therapy at Duke, she traveled to Southern California to receive care under one of the leading breast cancer specialists in the nation.
From that point, Cyndy received virtually every chemotherapy used in this disease – from Cytoxan and doxorubicin to paclitaxel, then to cisplatin and Navelbine, followed by eribulin and finally capecitabine.
Despite the intensity and significant toxicity of her treatments, the disease continued to grow consuming almost her entire chest wall.
In February of 2014, Cyndy requested an opinion at Rational Therapeutics (now Nagourney Cancer Institute).
In addition to the enormous volume of disease covering her entire chest, a lymph node was identified in the left axilla.
She had a surgical biopsy of the lymph node and submitted tissue to our laboratory for functional profiling analysis where we explored every conventional and experimental option possible.
With so many treatments already administered, we were surprised and delighted to find a relatively mild, 3-drug combination that worked perfectly for her disease.
We initiated treatment immediately.
Cyndy rented an apartment near our office in Southern California so that she could continue the treatment under our care.
The results could not have been more dramatic.
Complete resolution of all measurable disease, healing of the massive chest wounds, and finally normalization of her tumor markers.
With this excellent result, Cyndy was able to return to Eagle River, Alaska.
Cyndy's story exemplifies the best aspects of our work.
First, unanticipated combinations may yet provide excellent outcomes even in the most heavily treated patients.
Second, once the right treatment is identified, patients may receive their treatment close to home, in the care of their own qualified physicians.
Thirdly, effective treatments needn't be toxic treatments.