AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A young mother is doing well thanks to some groundbreaking treatment that started in Colorado. Just a few days after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, it was Emily Daniels’ husband, Brian, who said they should start focusing on fundraising for research.
“How can we take this horrible thing that has happened to us, and how can we make it into something better?” Emily remembers talking about with Brian.
Her diagnosis came while she was 33 weeks pregnant. A healthy, non-smoking young mom found out she had a rare form of ALK-positive lung cancer. She quickly sought treatment from a world renowned specialist at the University of Colorado, Dr. Ross Camidge.
“I have so much trust in him. The best thing about Dr. Camidge is he always has a plan B.” Daniels said. “It’s really individualized and personalized treatment that you’re getting at the University of Colorado hospital.”
“What’s unique about Emily is that the mechanism had never been described in a human being before,” Camidge said. “ALK-positive lung cancer is about 4% of lung cancer. It’s a relatively new identification for a disease. But in those 10 years, we have identified specific chemotherapies that work in it. Specific spread patterns of the disease. Specific drugs that work, specific drugs that work after those drugs don’t work. But always we’ve been concentrating on one particular pathway.”
With cancer spreading, Camidge and a team developed a unique plan for Emily. They took several biopsies and started growing her cancer in a lab to find the best way to treat her. Camidge is now presenting his findings this week to the world at World Conference on Lung Cancer.
“It’s only by growing these cells in the lab that we can see this was turned on, we could see the wires clicking on and off and that’s why we could say you need this drug and this drug to turn off both of these pathways,” he said. “We’re now about nine months in and it’s still under good control.”
Camidge says specific, groundbreaking treatment like this is only possible because of fundraising. Emily and her family have spearheaded hundreds of thousands of dollars through their organization Link for Lungs. They started working on fundraising more than a year ago, but recently have seen just how important the research is that they have helped fund.
“I tell people that I’m stable, but I still have cancer. And eventually the treatment I’m on now will stop working and that’s why research is so important. So that we can continue to find out what the next plan B is,” Daniels said.