The Culprit is Cancer
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Slamon is so incredibly wonderful to talk to," Lori Rinde says,
as she sits in a big, comfortable chair in UCLA's Bowyer Oncology
Center, Herceptin dripping from an IV into her body. "The fact I
was able to get in on this study - I'm so thrilled."
is 41. She has freckles across her nose and clear, blue eyes. On
a Wednesday afternoon in early June, she is wearing faded jeans,
a dark gray sweater and blue Birkenstocks. Her inch-high, spiky
blonde hair, which has yet to grow back after she had chemotherapy,
is tucked under a navy-blue baseball cap. As Rinde receives her
weekly, half-hour infusion of Herceptin, her son Corey, a towheaded
boy of 3, plays quietly near her feet. Rinde also has two daughters,
Chelsea, 13, and Kate, 10. "They're a huge part of my recovery,"
Rinde says. "They keep me uplifted."
was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990, at age 33, three months
after discovering a pea-sized lump in her right breast. The disease
was so aggressive she had a modified radical mastectomy and six
months of chemotherapy.
more than four years Rinde had been in remission when she got a
shock: She was pregnant. She discussed her medical history with
her OB-GYN and a cancer specialist, considered the danger a pregnancy
might pose to her health. But Lori and her husband, Paul, decided
to have the baby. It was a decision, it seemed, that was meant to
be. Rinde had her healthiest pregnancy, and when Corey was born,
it was her easiest birth.
was nine months old when I found another lump," Rinde recalls. In
April 1996, she had a lumpectomy on her left breast and a month
later began chemotherapy in an effort to contain the tumor. She
also had a CT scan done of her liver and pelvis.
long after, she went in to see her doctor. She vividly remembers
the look on his face. "He was completely white," she says. "He had
to tell me there were several lesions in my spine, liver and femur."
time Rinde's cancer was even more virulent than before. After rejecting
a proposed bone marrow transplant, she and her family began to search
for alternatives. Her sister-in-law had recently read about the
HER-2 studies under way at UCLA. Tissue samples of Rinde's tumors
were tested and proved positive for the specific genetic alteration
Slamon was investigating.