CHICAGO (CBS) — Recent studies show more women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer, or breast cancer that has spread, and many are living longer thanks in part to new treatments being tested to try to beat the disease.
Morgan Mitchell and her fiance hit the gym five days a week. Morgan has four marathons under her belt, works at least 60 hours a week, and travels for her job. She’s doing all of this while battling stage 4 breast cancer.
“I’m 29, and I had no family history to my knowledge,” Morgan says.
Then she got tested, and found out she has the gene for breast cancer.
On the same day Bob proposed last November, Morgan discovered a lump in her breast. Then came the shocking news: she had breast cancer that spread to her liver.
Dr. Paula Klein, an oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who is treating Morgan, suggested she enroll in a new clinical trial for metastastic breast cancer patients. The experimental treatment combines four different targeted drugs to try to stop cancer cells from growing and spreading.
“This is the new way to treat cancer is, you know, precision medicine has a lot of different definitions, but clearly going after the unique biology of every cancer is the answer, the holy grail,” Klein said.
Mount Sinai is the first and only hospital offering the trial, which allows patients to avoid chemotherapy and radiation. For the bride-to-be, maintaining her quality of life was important.
Morgan says she’s “happy that I can wake up and still have my hair and still go to work.”
After eight months of treatment, some tumors are shrinking. For now, the couple says they are focusing on their future: planning their wedding.
“So needless to say, those wedding toasts, there’s not going to be a dry eye in the house. Um, but Bob and I are very fortunate to be going through this together,” Morgan said.
“We’re fighting through it. I mean there’s no other option really,” said Morgan’s fiance, Bob O’Dell.
Their big day is set for next summer.
It’s estimated more than 150,000 in this country are living with metastatic breast cancer.
-by Meg Oliver, CBS News