My name is Elizabeth Dessureault. In April of 2015, I was diagnosed with advanced stage non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer (NSCLC). As an otherwise healthy, non-smoking young adult, this news came as a complete shock. At the time I was 26 years old, just five months shy of completing my Master’s degree in Education and pregnant with my first child. I was told that my cancer was incurable and that I had less than a year to live. I was also told that surgery would never be an option.
As a teacher, newlywed, and mother-to-be, I refused to accept the prognosis. Following the guidance of my amazing oncologist, Dr. Scott Laurie, I had my tissue sent to Foundation Medicine in the United States for genetic testing. At five months pregnant I began chemotherapy. I finished 3 cycles before giving birth two months prematurely to my beautiful and healthy son Jack.
After giving birth, the tumor test results came back positive for a ROS-1 genetic mutation. I was then able to use targeted treatments to try and shrink and stabilize my cancer. These targeted therapies shrunk the volume of cancer so drastically that it allowed for me to have surgery – something supposedly impossible. On July 27, 2016, one month after my lobectomy, I was told that I had no evidence of disease (NED)! To say that this was the best day of my life is an understatement. The “impossible” had become “possible” because I was tested and my oncologist treated outside me of the standard of care.
I am so thankful that I sent my tissue to be tested, as I am certain that I am alive today because of it. I am truly grateful for my extraordinary oncologist, surgeon (Dr. Sudhir Sundaresan), and medical team who have helped me to get to where I am today.
As for now, I will continue on with the clinical trial and if anything pops up in the future, we will deal with it then. I am grateful for each and every day that I get to watch my son grow and pray that this new NED status will be around for a very long time.
Read Lizzie’s Blog: From Lizzie’s Lungs
NOTE: Sadly, Lizzie lost her battle with lung cancer in 2017. Her story continues to be an inspiration.