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Case Study

Finding Hope in the Face of Cancer

Published February 28th, 2022

What we know about our health can change in an instant, as Amanda found. In May of 2021, Amanda decided to take better care of herself. She went for a mammogram that she had been avoiding for years and received news that completely changed her life. At age 58, Amanda was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. 

Amanda lived in a remote community and didn’t have access to the high-quality care she would need. Recognizing this, she engaged Private Health Management to ensure she received the best care and outcome.  PHM immediately provided a dedicated Personal Care Team to ensure the baseline therapies were being delivered by experts in cancer care and that she had access to the latest science-backed data and research.

Triple negative breast cancer tends to recur if not treated assertively and it was important to have an experienced team to develop an optimal treatment and monitoring plan from the start. As a first step, PHM transferred Amanda’s care to a leading breast cancer team at Duke University Medical Center. PHM also facilitated repeat testing, imaging, and pathology review to confirm her diagnosis and rule out the presence of cancer cells in her lymph nodes – a concern that her original team had raised. Thankfully, Amanda’s cancer was caught early, vastly improving her prognosis.

In August 2021, she began treatment with a three-drug chemotherapy combination that was standard of care for triple negative breast cancer. Her Personal Care Team had been closely following advances in the field and advised she might be an excellent candidate for adding a fourth drug to her treatment regimen, an immunotherapy called Keytruda, which had just received FDA approval for this diagnosis in late July 2021.

Amanda was among the first group of early-stage triple negative breast cancer patients to receive the drug. The results were remarkable. When Amanda underwent surgery to remove the lump in her breast after completing her treatment, there was no evidence of remaining disease.

Amanda will continue to receive Keytruda for the next year, which will help her immune system prevent the disease from coming back. In addition, her PHM team recommended and arranged for a highly sensitive, cutting-edge blood test to be repeated every few months to monitor for recurrence of the cancer.

Understanding the total disruption that cancer causes for patients and their families, PHM developed a personalized care plan to support Amanda’s emotional health throughout her cancer journey. Amanda’s care team connected her with a social worker who helped her combat the anxiety she had about her treatment; engaged a local wig provider so she could still see herself when she looked in the mirror; and coordinated genetic testing to determine whether her cancer was associated with any genetic alterations that she could have passed on to her daughter.

Amanda had no family history of cancer, but her story is a real-life reminder of the importance of regular screening and health maintenance. With the help of a new primary care physician and OBGYN that PHM organized for her, she’s able to take charge of her health by making informed decisions based on the best of what’s possible in medicine. Amanda’s story has turned out to be encouraging, and with support from her expert team of doctors and PHM, she and her family can look forward to a bright future – together.

* Name changed to protect privacy

* Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About the Authors

Lee Gibbs, PhD

Research Director

Dr. Gibbs has over a decade of experience in cancer biology and genomic. Throughout his career he has focused on cutting-edge biotechnologies and data analysis in translational research.

Monica Separazadah, MPAS, PA-C

Senior Clinical Director | Physician Assistant

Monica Separzadeh provides comprehensive clinical care and case management and is a board-certified Physician Assistant.