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Joanne TaylorBreast Cancer |  Diagnosed 2007

We need more therapies like these so patients can continue living well and living a long life.

Joanne's Story

After Joanne Taylor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she had an idea: create a resource on the web for others diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2013, her dream became a reality when she launched After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, a site with information on treatment, breast reconstruction, support resources, and more.

When Joanne’s cancer returned later that year, the U.K.-based wife and mother began treatment again, this time adding the immunotherapy Perjeta® (pertuzumab) to her regimen. An avid runner and cyclist, she is able to continue doing the activities she loves while undergoing treatment. She is currently N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease) and receives maintenance treatment.

Question and Answers

How and when did you first learn you had cancer?

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was 38 and married with two young children. Our daughter was five months old and our son was 2 ½ . It was a huge shock. I opted for a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Personally, I didn’t want to wake up after a mastectomy without a breast. For me it helped me cope with my self-image and treatment.  I had 6 cycles of chemo, 4 weeks of radiation, a year of Herceptin, Tamoxifen for 5 years, and lastly Zolodex for 2 ½ years. I finished treatment in 2012.

How did you learn about immunotherapy and why did you decide to do it?

Nearly a year after the web site launch, I was diagnosed with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer. It was devastating. I completed 8 cycles of chemo and am currently in remission. In between chemo 4 and 5, I had a break from chemo and I completed a 60-mile bike charity ride for my hospital, The Christie.  I’m now on drugs to stop/delay the cancer from returning. One of them being Perjeta. It’s been and still is a hard struggle and of course the story won’t stop there.  I will continue to have treatment every 3 weeks forever.  Secondary breast cancer is incurable.
 
 

What was treatment like? Did you have any side effects?

I have Perjeta every 3 weeks and have been on the drug for 1.5 years now. I started taking it when I was first rediagnosed, so it was in conjunction with chemotherapy and Herceptin. I had 8 rounds of chemo, and now am receiving maintenance Herceptin and Perjeta. I have found the drug fine—to be honest it doesn’t majorly impact my life. I can still run, cycle, and practice yoga and do the things I normally do. I would have the treatment and no side effects the same day or after. I have been out running the same night after treatment. 

Are there things that surprise you about the cancer experience?

To be able to carry on with life when you have two children is a massive bonus. I have a lot of energy and it doesn’t cause a problem with that either. We need more therapies like these so patients can continue living well and living a long life.
 
No one would know if I walked down the street that I have an incurable disease. Which is good, but also has a downside that people don’t understand the seriousness of secondary/metastatic breast cancer. I think that is where people need educating. Just because you can’t see a disease or its effects doesn’t mean it’s any less deadly. 
 
 

What would you want another patient to know about immunotherapy or about participating in a clinical trial?

I hope my web site can help other patients making tough decisions at the most upsetting and crucial time of their life. It’s the most traumatic experience that anyone can face and now I’m living with it, but so glad I’m still here to tell my story and be an advocate for primary and secondary breast cancer.
 

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Patient education information supported by a charitable donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
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