From Michael Yang, General Manager, Veridex
Last year, the Veridex team met Jesica Harrington, a young mother and fifth grade teacher from Castle Rock, Colorado. Jesica’s story as a breast cancer survivor, mother and advocate for others fighting this disease inspires us and makes us proud to be part of an organization that is changing the way we think about managing cancer.
Jesica is one of 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. Further complicating an already devastating diagnosis was the fact that she was pregnant at the time she was diagnosed with the disease.
As we described in Johnson & Johnson’s 2009 annual report, Jesica learned about the CELLSEARCH®Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Test, a blood test to capture and detect CTCs, from her father, and she and her doctor made the decision to use the test as a tool that helped to determine her prognosis during her treatment regimen.
Today, a year after she finished treatment, Jesica is cancer-free and is celebrating the birth of a healthy baby boy. Based on her experience battling the disease, she is sharing her story in the hope that other women will understand the power of knowledge in the fight against cancer.
It’s overwhelming when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer -- especially at a young age. My life was just starting. I had only been married for a couple of years, and my daughter was only a year and a half old at the time. I felt like I was robbed of time and was afraid of losing my life to a disease that I didn’t know I had. Fighting the disease changed absolutely everything about my life -- from my diet and exercise to teaching my kids at school.
When I was first diagnosed, many things made me feel helpless - not being able to control having the disease, not being able to protect my baby from chemo treatments and the worry of what it might do to his development. But being an active and engaged patient helped me get back in control and gave me hope.
What I want other women to know is that beating this disease opens your eyes to a whole new meaning of life. It sounds so cheesy and so cliché but it’s the honest truth. As soon as I started feeling better physically – when my hair started coming back and my eyelashes started coming in, I started feeling like myself again, I was a parent to my kids, and we could play together and do things that I couldn’t do when I was sick. I look at my son who went through chemotherapy with me and today, he’s healthy and he’s happy and he has a good personality. I’m almost thankful in a weird way to have gone through all of it because it makes me feel like my life is so much better now and I don’t take anything for granted.
Jesica’s compelling story is an important reminder that knowledge and awareness is a powerful ally when it comes to battling cancer.
* CELLSEARCH® is the first diagnostic test that automates the capture and detection of CTCs, tumor cells that have detached from solid tumors and entered the bloodstream. The CELLSEARCH®test is unique because it assesses the presence of CTCs to determine the prognosis and overall survival of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal or prostate cancer at any time during the course of treatment.
The CELLSEARCH® Circulating Tumor Cell test is not approved to demonstrate that any current line of therapy is any more or less effective than any other or no therapy. CELLSEARCH® results and imaging results are not equivalent in assessing the transition of patients between non-progressive disease and progressive disease.
For complete indications, warnings, contraindications and precautions, please refer to the CELLSEARCH® CTC Test Instructions for Use.