CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A newly FDA-approved-drug to treat metastatic breast cancer is giving hope to patients at Levine Cancer Institute.
Amanda Edwards, 46, is the first patient at LCI to be treated with the new medication, ENHERTU. Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2014.
“I was given a clean bill of health and was cancer-free for about two and a half years,” Edwards said.
She’s been through a variety of cancer therapies in the last six years as cancer has come and gone spreading to her skull and most recently her lungs.
“Basically, when you’re at the point of stage 4 metastatic—which I’ve been since 2017--- it’s the question of buying back time. You are considered terminal and you’ll never be cancer-free again,” Edwards said.
Her doctor, Levine Cancer Institute’s Dr. Ashley Sumrall, said many women who are fighting the type of cancer Edwards has outgrows the few medications that are available.
“Especially in the world of HER2-positive breast cancer we’ve had research successes over the years but unfortunately a lot of these ladies grow through those medicines. There’s a handful of medicines that we use for everyone and so anytime there is one that is under investigation and you get some good results, we’re all just stalking those drugs,” Sumrall said.
Dr. Sumrall was keeping a close watch on the clinical trials and approvals of the newest drug, ENHERTU. The FDA approved it in December and within a month, Sumrall was using it to treat the tumors that had taken over Edwards’ lungs.
“She knew this cutting-edge treatment that was coming out, it literally was fast-tracked by the FDA, and she got it for me in a month. I don’t know how she does it. She’s like magic. But that’s what enabled me to be the first patient at Levine to receive this life-changing treatment,” Edwards said.
Since Edwards started the treatment, Dr. Sumrall said they have been using the medication on other women fighting breast cancer in Charlotte.
Dr. Sumrall said it’s showing promising results.
“We’ve had fewer offerings than ever because so many trials have been closed or put on hold due to the pandemic. So, we really have fewer options than ever for our stage 4 patients,” Dr. Sumrall said.
Within a few months of taking the new medication, Edwards’ tumors were reduced by half, and she says her most recent scans in July showed more progress.
“Each one of those, I call it a stay of execution because I’ve got more time for now. And I try to live the next 3 months as normally as possible until the next scan and then we wait and deal with it as it comes,” Edwards said. “I just have to stay alive long enough for the next great thing and hope that someday there will be a cure. And until then, every day is a gift and I just try to live my life like every day is Christmas,” Edwards said.
Edwards is married with two children: ages 10 and 8.