Testing at the Level of the Gene

Testing at the Level of the Gene

Hi Everyone!

Thank you for your interest in following my progress. I’m delighted to report my daily targeted therapy, a pill, continues to work. The tumors remain 70% smaller and there’s no evidence of disease progression. I feel well, I’m active, and I’m happy. Also, I’m tremendously grateful for recent advances in cancer research that enable me to live longer and better. Let me explain.

Biomarker testing identifies patients who are eligible for treatments that more precisely and effectively target their tumor cells. That results in fewer toxic side effects compared to conventional therapies.

Sunnybrook is one of the largest lung cancer biomarker testing centres in Ontario, with testing volumes of about 1,000 per year. Today, Sunnybrook tests for four biomarkers funded by Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario). However, many more biomarkers are sequenced. Sunnybrook hopes to expand to a 50-gene test identifying the commonly mutated genes in solid tumors, including those most often involved in lung cancer.

An upgrade to a 50-gene sequencing panel could increase the number of patients with a targetable gene mutation from 20% to 45%. My fundraising efforts, including our inaugural Fall Golf Tournament, Crush it with Bev!, will raise money for more biomarker testing at Sunnybrook.

When I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in July 2019, I benefited from biomarker testing. I was fortunate that my mutation was one of the three biomarkers funded for testing at the time. It meant that I qualified for targeted therapy specific to my tumor mutation.

Fast forward to today: I know my tumors will eventually develop resistance to the targeted therapy. However it is reassuring to know that the expanded 50-gene panel of biomarker tests will be available when I need it. Not every Canadian facing lung cancer is as fortunate. Sometimes it is due to patients living in remote areas; in others, oncologists cannot access the testing for their patients due to limited availability.

Both Lung Cancer Canada, and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, an Ontario government-funded organization, share the goal that every cancer patient has their tumor sequenced to identify their unique genetic characteristics. It is critical to improving patient outcomes to match patients with more precise treatments that greatly improve results. I hope that more lung cancer patients can benefit from biomarker testing now and in the future.

Thanks to so many friends, colleagues, family members and indeed strangers, my fundraising efforts are gaining traction. Check out the progress here: over $51,000 raised for lung cancer at Sunnybrook.

Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and caring.

I love hearing from you! Please feel free to contact me at any time!