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Stephanie Haney - Patient Story

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"Thanks to the incredible team at Fox Chase, I am an active participant in my life, and I don’t intend to let lung cancer get in the way of that."

— Stephanie Haney, Lung Cancer Patient

My children were two and four years old when I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at age 39. I was so afraid that I would be gone too soon, that they would get a new mother and wouldn’t remember me. Today they are 12 and 14 years old, and every milestone along the way has been really meaningful for me. It has now been 10 years since my diagnosis, I remain in good health, and I am living a life that I wasn’t sure would be possible 10 years ago.

I was diagnosed in October 2007. I had no risk factors and no family history of the disease. When I was first diagnosed, I traveled over two hours one-way to Fox Chase Cancer Center to seek a second opinion, but then decided to undergo treatment at a hospital near my home. By early 2011, I was still researching treatment options and came across a clinical trial at Fox Chase for a drug in development that targets a specific genetic mutation called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase).

I was accepted into the trial because I carried that mutation. I was lucky. The targeted drug being tested in the trial stabilized my tumors and was later approved by the FDA. Throughout this challenging time, I was blessed with some wonderful experiences and relationships with my medical team. I was my own health advocate and was not afraid to demand the best and most up-to-date treatment available so that I could have more time to raise my daughters. It was worth it to me to travel the distance to Fox Chase every three weeks and sometimes more often.

One bump in the road was the discovery of small tumor metastases in my brain. This was not considered a failure of the treatment because the drug does not target the brain, but treatment was clearly needed. Dr. Shelley Hayes at Fox Chase Buckingham successfully treated the metastases with CyberKnife radiation, and I had few side effects. Other spots were subsequently detected, but they have not changed and are not growing, and I have no symptoms. My condition is now monitored and managed at a hospital closer to my home, and I continue medical therapy for lung cancer.

It is important to me that I receive the most progressive treatments possible to sustain my quality of life and my time with my children. I am extremely grateful for the care and individual attention I received at Fox Chase. Thanks to the incredible team there, I am an active participant in my life, and I don’t intend to let lung cancer get in the way of that.

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