“Five to 10 percent of breast cancers are on the basis of an inherited gene mutation—most commonly, the BRCA gene,” said Dr. Reshma Mahtani, an oncologist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System. “These women have an 80 to 90 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.”
That’s the case with Titapan Patenaude, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24 while she was pregnant and still breastfeeding her first child.
Patenaude is part of a clinical trial at Sylvester that’s investigating the effectiveness of an alternative breast cancer treatment. While not yet approved by the FDA, the trial’s oral parp inhibitor has already shown to be more effective than chemotherapy and less toxic.
“Quality of life is everything when it comes to stage 4 breast cancer,” said Dr. Mahtani. “We want women to have a good quality of life, to be able to participate in all their normal activities and not have their disease rule their existence.”
“I’m so lucky to be here, you know?” said Patenaude. “Can you imagine I’m still in Thailand or somewhere else that they don’t have the drug trial for me?
“Every day is like a bonus.”