Linda Warren learned the unfortunate reality – and impact – of cancer early in her life when she lost her mother to breast cancer. Since her mother’s fight ended at the young age of 39, Linda wasn’t surprised when she received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008. It was then that she turned to Robert Johnson, MD, FACP, a medical oncologist and hematologist at West Cancer Center, who suggested she undergo testing for the BRCA gene mutation – a gene marker that increases the risk and likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer for women, as well as breast and prostate cancer for men. And since the BRCA gene mutation is often hereditary, Linda, along with three of her four siblings, underwent genetic testing to not only gauge their own risk of developing the disease, but also to determine the likelihood of it being passed down to their children. And while her two sisters tested negative for the BRCA gene mutation, Linda, along with one of her brothers, tested positive.
Due to Linda’s high risk of cancer recurrence, Dr. Johnson’s devised an aggressive treatment plan that began with a bilateral mastectomy. Then, after much discussion and collaboration with Todd Tillmanns, MD, FACOG, a gynecologic oncologist at West Cancer Center, Dr. Johnson recommended Linda forgo a preventative – and cautionary – full hysterectomy. It was during the hysterectomy that an abnormality was detected and sent for testing. The results uncovered a second cancer diagnosis for Linda, but this time, in her fallopian tube. Under the care of Dr. Tillmanns, Linda underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatments until there was no evidence of disease. She spent the next seven years in remission and only required regular check-ups. However, in 2015, the cancer returned in pelvic area. This time, Dr. Tillmanns devised a treatment plan to shrink the tumor down to an operable size. Fortunately for Linda, the chemotherapy ended up destroying the tumor completely, without a need for surgery.
However, once again, in 2016, Linda was faced with yet another cancer recurrence in her pelvic area. Because of her previous history with several different chemotherapy drugs and her two cancer recurrences, she was a candidate for Lynparza – an oral chemotherapy drug with proven successes in advanced ovarian cancers, a few fallopian tube cancers, and was being studied in other cancers as well. And in May of 2017, Linda received a clear scan and no evidence of disease.
Knowing the BRCA gene mutation is often hereditary, Linda’s daughter also chose to get tested. And, like her mother, she tested positive and elected to not only undergo a preventative bilateral mastectomy, but also a full hysterectomy.
“I’m forever thankful that Memphis has West Cancer Center,” said Linda. “Cancer comes with a lot of uncertainties, but one thing I’m certain about is that I’m being treated at the right place – and by the right people. Here, I have access to the most innovative treatment available – and it’s working!”
Meet Our Fighters
These are real stories of bravery, the chronicles of men and women who found the strength to fight on and the people who stood by them. West Cancer Center brings the very best technology, research and doctors to Memphis so patients can recover close to home. To read more stories like Linda’s, click here.
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