Lung Cancer Fighter Finds Hope – With Your Help
Kathy Kait is an active 70-year-old woman. She walks at least three miles every day, rides her bicycle often, and does yoga. She eats healthy, makes smoothies for breakfast, and she doesn’t smoke.
So when she began noticing some minor symptoms — like fatigue and shortness of breath — she didn’t think too much of them.
“I was running up the stairs carrying laundry and noticed that I had to stop and catch my breath,” she said. “I felt otherwise OK, so I thought I might have a cold or pneumonia.”
She paid a visit to her doctor, who did X-rays. But instead of pneumonia, he found numerous tumors in her lungs and lesions on her skull. She was told she had lung cancer — and that the disease had already spread.
Understandably, Kathy was shocked.
“I was feeling pretty healthy overall, and there isn’t a lot of cancer in my family,” she said. “My mom died in her 90s and my dad died in his 80s, so I was thinking I had a lot of time ahead of me and that I was going to be able to enjoy retirement and spending time with my five grandchildren.”
An initial genetic test of Kathy’s tumor came back negative, meaning that new, cutting-edge treatments weren’t an option. As she began radiation and chemotherapy, Kathy tried to keep her spirits up — but as a retired nurse practitioner, she knew that the prognosis for lung cancer was bleak.
After a few rounds of treatments, her doctor suggested they retest her tumor with a new, more sensitive genetic test that had been developed at Roswell Park. The one-of-a-kind tool, called OmniSeq Target™, looks for cancer-causing mutations that can be targeted with personalized drugs that are more effective than traditional therapies like radiation and standard chemotherapy.
Many insurance companies weren’t covering the cost of OmniSeq Target™ yet, though, because the test was relatively new. Thankfully, the money raised by individuals like you provided the necessary funding so that all patients who could benefit from the test, including Kathy, had access to it.
For Kathy — and more than 600 other patients — your participation in the Empire State Ride has made all the difference. OmniSeq Target™ revealed that Kathy’s tumor did have a mutation, and that it could be targeted with a new treatment that would likely do a better job of keeping her cancer at bay: a once-a-day pill that she could take at home.
“When I got the test results, I was absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “My perspective completely changed. I went from having little hope to having new, magnificent hope.”
She’s been on the new treatment for more than a year now, and her most recent scans showed that her tumors are shrinking.
“I’m just so grateful, and I feel great,” she said. “I might not live until I’m 93 like my mother did, but because of this treatment, I’m enjoying the time that I do have. I’m thankful for the riders and the donors who helped make this test possible. There is so much exciting research going on at Roswell Park, and that makes me hopeful.
Scientists at OmniSeq, a Roswell Park partner, have further advanced the OmniSeq Target™ test to identify even more actionable gene mutations for certain types of cancer and save more lives. Thanks to the dollars that covered the cost of the new OmniSeq Comprehensive test, scientists have been able to justify its value to insurance companies, resulting in broader coverage for Roswell Park patients.