chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and Taxol (paclitaxel)
for about seven weeks. Initially, the results were mixed.
A CT scan in late September revealed the tumor had
shrunk by 90 percent, but it also showed the cancer had
spread to lymph nodes inside her lung.
Her doctors had initially considered surgery to remove
Freeman-Daily’s entire left lung, but a PET scan revealed
that the cancer had spread to a lymph node in the middle
of her chest, which made her cancer inoperable. She was
diagnosed as stage IIIB, which includes cancers that have
spread to lymph nodes in the center of the chest.
After undergoing intense radiation and chemotherapy,
Freeman-Daily’s body needed a chance to mend before
undergoing further cancer treatment. While she was
recovering, though, things got worse. In October, a lump
appeared on her neck near her collarbone and ballooned
to 9 centimeters. “The cancer was getting out of my
chest,” she says. “It was quite a shock.”
CLINICAL TRIALS PAY OFF
To learn more about her disease, Freeman-Daily joined
an online patient forum, which is how she learned about a
clinical trial called the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium
Protocol, which offered tumor testing for abnormalities in
10 genes in lung cancer tissue. She hoped that her tumor
would test positive for a genetic abnormality that could be
treated with a targeted therapy.
“Other patients told me about it, [but] my doctors in
Seattle hadn’t heard of it,” she says. Freeman-Daily learned
that the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora
was accepting patients for the trial, and they agreed to test
her previously biopsied tumor tissue even though she was
unable to travel to the center. Unfortunately, her test came
back negative for all the abnormalities. Even so, the genetic
testing heralded a turning point for her.
In January 2012, Freeman-Daily began chemotherapy
again, undergoing six rounds of Alimta (pemetrexed) and
Avastin (bevacizumab) over five months. Her side effects
included nosebleeds, flu-like symptoms and peripheral
nerve damage. But there was a big payoff: No evidence of
cancer remained in her left lung or lymph nodes, and the
new tumor near her collarbone had shrunk by 90 percent.
She also underwent six weeks of radiation.
Then Freeman-Daily got more bad news. A PET
scan in September 2012 showed that her collarbone
area was clear, but her right lung, which had previously
been unaffected, had two new hot spots that her doctors
suspected were cancer. “We really didn’t know if I was
going to make it,” she says.
After getting this disheartening news, Janet and Gerry
visited her nephew in Denver. While there, she realized
how close she was to the University of Colorado Cancer
Center, so she contacted the genetic testing trial coordinator to arrange a time to stop in to personally thank
uses social media
to help build online
networks for patients.
Janet Freeman-Daily uses social media to educate and unite
patients to help advance cancer research. Learn more about
her experiences and her thoughts on lung cancer and blame at