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Strong Memorial HospitalRochester, NY
My husband, Jeff, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in November 2013 at the age of 42. I was 5 months pregnant when we received the devastating news. Jeff's cancer is the result of a genetic mutation, he is ALK positive. Like many young families managing a lung cancer diagnosis we have found ourselves on a journey unlike anything we could have imagined, let alone planned for. It is thanks to Dr. Deborah Mulford that Jeff is alive and thriving.
Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) lung cancer is a rare form of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (4-5% of NSCLC patients are ALK+) which means cancer centers around the globe see very few of these patients walk through their doors. Not only that, the ALK gene was just discovered in 2007; there is still a great deal to learn about the mutation.
From the start, Dr. Mulford was very honest with us about the severity of Jeff's illness and the prognosis that many late stage lung cancer patients are given (1-4 years). The five year survival rate is only 16%. The prognosis has not come up since our initial discussions. Since then Dr. Mulford has done nothing but give us hope. She's made it very clear that there are great strides being made in the research and treatment of NSCLC ALK+ lung cancer. From targeted therapies to combination treatments to immunotherapies, there are options abound.
Dr. Mulford understands the importance of working with other cancer centers and reaching out to her colleagues to stay ahead of the science and medical research. She fully supported our decision to partner with Dana-Farber when Jeff was first diagnosed. She worked with us to ensure scans were sent to DF and she had many conversations with our assigned oncologist. She has also proactively reached out to giants in the field like Dr. Alice Shaw of Massachusetts General. And for as much research as I do online and amongst my peer group of lung cancer caregivers that I met through social media, Dr. Mulford is a always step ahead, making me aware of clinical trials to check out because she knows we like to have a Plan B, C and D.
Dr. Mulford has been with us every step of the way. She's given us comfort when we needed it most. She's been open to our treatment ideas and is committed to giving Jeff, and our family, the best possible experience.
In just a few weeks Jeff and I will be celebrating our little boy's 2nd birthday. Anything in this life is possible. Living with stage IV lung cancer is possible. - Much love and much hope!