Sasha’s Story

“Inivata’s test has potentially bought me several more years that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That’s something that money can’t buy.”

In 2017, Sasha started suffering from severe shoulder pain. Her doctor suggested it may be a pulled tendon and advised her to rest. She didn’t think much of it and carried on with her life. A year later she developed a sustained cough, accompanied by acute back pain and revisited the doctor. A course of antibiotics didn’t address the issue and shortly after Sasha was referred for an x-ray. The unimaginable started to unravel. A darkened area on her lung had been found. With increasing levels of pain, her CT scan was expedited which revealed she had non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had spread to her pelvis, spine and lymph nodes.

“Receiving my initial diagnosis was horrendous.  I’ve never smoked so it didn’t even occur to me that I’d have lung cancer.”

Multiple tests followed ultimately leading to a lung tissue biopsy which confirmed she had EGFR-positive NSCLC.

“The tissue biopsy was terrible. The whole procedure was very frightening, and I knew I couldn’t ever put myself through it again. It was without question the worst day of my life.”

With an EGFR-positive diagnosis, the oncologist started Sasha on targeted therapy.  Initially the treatment was effective, and her tumour reduced significantly in size. For a year Sasha had no pain or breathlessness, but in July 2020 the pain returned, and the cancer had progressed.  Alongside various treatments, Sasha was tested to see if her cancer had progressed to a T790M mutation. The results came back negative, and she was given a choice. Either she could have another tissue biopsy – something she was too frightened to consider – or go onto standard chemotherapy.

However, Sasha wanted a second opinion.  She had joined an EGFR-positive group on Facebook as a source of support and importantly, information. Through this network Sasha had discovered that over half of EGFR patients develop the T790M mutation¹and that the mutation was often discovered through a highly sensitive liquid biopsy, a non-invasive diagnostic test that she had not yet received. Via the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Sasha learnt about Inivata and the InVisionFirst-Lung test, which she was able to use through a patient access programme.  The test confirmed she had the T790M mutation and three other sub-mutations.

On the back of this information, Sasha’s treatment course was amended such that she is now receiving a new targeted therapy, and is now waiting for her next scan to see she has responded.

“I was told by my clinician that that there would be limited benefit from a liquid biopsy, but I refused to give up.  The results of the InVisionFirst-Lung test have potentially bought me several more years which I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  That’s something that money can’t buy.”

Her quest now is to share the benefits of actively pursuing personalised healthcare.

“What worries me is how many people have missed the chance for personalised medicine and just receive chemotherapy by default.  It could be shortening their lives.”

References:

  1. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. 2009 Jan;4(1):1-4. doi:10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181913c9f.

In late 2021, Sasha sadly passed away.  She was a true warrior and fought to make the world around her better, even when she was very poorly, to help others get diagnosed sooner. We are extremely grateful to Sasha and her family for sharing the journey as we continue to focus on improving outcomes for patients daily.

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