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Houston Methodist Foundation Magazine | 2014

As with her diagnosis, Vicki’s treatment plan came together very fast. The following week, she underwent a battery of tests as Dr. Chang collaborated with a team of expert colleagues from Houston Methodist and around the world to create a unique and tailored treatment regimen, which would include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Dr. Chang recommended chemotherapy first, thereby allowing her to study the effects of the chemo on the tumor. Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for only 15 percent of breast cancer cases, and the disease does not respond to therapies targeting the three receptors known to cause the majority of breast cancers. Vicki became part of a clinical trial using a taxane-based chemo. After four infusions, the tumor had nearly doubled in size. “Triple-negative breast cancer is difficult to control,” Dr. Chang explains. “Unlike other cancers, we don’t know what causes it. It’s genetically unstable, so the treatment is not targeted – instead there are multiple targets that must be treated.” Dr. Chang then started Vicki on a combination chemotherapy called AC, which required an infusion every three weeks. During this time, Dr. Chang received results of a genetic analysis she ordered, and it revealed that Vicki’s tumor was made up of not one, but two different mutated genes. Armed with this additional information, Dr. Chang and her colleagues again tweaked Vicki’s treatment and supplemented the AC infusions with weekly infusions of the targeted blocker EGFR, which specifically targeted one of Vicki’s two mutated genes. Vicki and Carl’s confidence in Dr. Chang never wavered. Never were they surprised when she would suggest additional ways to attack Vicki’s most unusual cancer. So, when Dr. Chang recommended adding another type of chemo infusion, coupled with a daily targeted blocker in pill form, there was no hesitation. The couple agreed. The revised regimen quickly improved Vicki’s prognosis. By May 2013, the tumor shrunk to less than its original size, providing the ideal circumstances for Dr. Barbara Bass, John F., Jr. and Carolyn Bookout Presidential Distinguished Chair, to remove what was left. In all, during a 10-month period, Vicki received 28 infusions, participated in a clinical trial, underwent surgery and had 33 rounds of radiation. She and her husband also formed lifelong bonds with Dr. Chang and many others at Houston Methodist. Now, more than a year later and in remission, Vicki says, “I do not have any bad memories. All of my memories are of caring and nurturing people -- the parking attendants at the Outpatient Center, greeters, receptionists, infusion nurses, technicians, pharmacists, dieticians, Dr. Chang and her group of doctors – each person was part of a team that helped me along this journey. I was confident, as well as energized, by the entire Houston Methodist team. Not to be overlooked is the significance of the unceasing support I received from family and friends. There were many prayers said, meals provided, cards, visits and phone calls. All of these things contributed to a successful outcome.” Grateful and appreciative of the care they received, Vicki and Carl considered ways to show their thankfulness. Most particularly they wanted to support Dr. Chang and her research. Their decision was made after learning about CREDO: The Center for drug REpositioning and DevelOpment. Many of the drugs approved by the FDA for other uses may hold promise for the treatment of breast cancer. But a program has never existed to test their effectiveness on this disease. CREDO fills this void. By repositioning e xisting approved drugs, researchers will avoid significant costs and the decades-long discovery process, ultimately providing faster treatment to patients. This leading medicine research has the potential to transform the treatment of breast cancer patients. The Baucums gave a dollar-fordollar match in support of CREDO program fundraising. At the time of publication, they had raised more than $300,000. 40 Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation


Houston Methodist Foundation Magazine | 2014
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