We are the Anderson family. Curt (husband), Amy (wife) and our two kids, Addie (16) and Asher (7). In February 2022, Amy was diagnosed with Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma (a highly aggressive, invasive breast cancer) that had spread to the axillary lymph. Pathology indicated Triple Negative disease. Care plan includes (treatment/chemotherapy) + (surgery) + (radiation). We wanted to “get at this” aggressive disease with everything we could, and felt strongly compelled to follow an integrative plan of functional medicine + standard care oncology, to support Amy’s pre-existing sensitivities and autoimmune disease during treatment. In June 2022, Amy completed 11 chemotherapy infusions, and despite suffering peripheral neuropathy, Amy had an "incredible response."
However, an ultrasound biopsy in July 2022 showed one remaining treatment-resistant tumor to be HER2+ amplified disease. This presented a challenge, and perplexed every colleague our oncologist consulted. At that time, we also learned that our oncologist was moving out of state and would be unable to continue our care. He recommended an oncologist from his network, and also sent referrals to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and the University of Minnesota Cancer Center for second opinions. During the next several weeks, we met with oncologists, surgeons, functional and medical doctors, seeking their advice on this new twist, while also searching for a good fit for a new oncologist that would support Amy's desire to continue integrating functional and standard care (especially since her body responded so well so far to this approach). For every practitioner we met with, we had a different opinion: Some said “need” surgery now, some said “need” to wait and treat; some said “must” continue Triple Negative chemotherapy schedule, some said “must” stop and immediately begin HER2+ treatments … the opinions varied wildly, and felt a bit like starting over and a whole new diagnosis. It took time to get second opinions and find a new team. During this time, we kept up the fight: Amy completed various functional therapies, including a series of antigen injections with RGCC (Research Genetics Cancer Center) aimed at revitalizing Amy's flatlined immune system, and in January 2023, after new baseline imaging, we established a new plan of (integrated) care with our new team.
Amy will begin HER2+ targeted therapy for the remaining HER2+ disease and will continue to incorporate integrative therapies in order to maximize the effectiveness of treatment and help her body fight this disease well, while managing side effects. (We wait and see if additional chemotherapy will be necessary, as it will depend on the response to HER2+ treatment, risk of recurrence of Triple-Negative disease and risk of advancing neuropathy.) We are on a long, slow road but are hopeful. We are grateful for the medical teams who have come alongside us to help us navigate our unique situation. We have weighed numerous mixed professional opinions, and we have relied heavily on our team, and ultimately our faith to help us know what is best for “us” and best for treating Amy individually and wholly as we walk this out one step at a time.
As this journey has been long and slow, we have finally found ourselves in a place of financial need. After a harder season of Curt’s business still impacted by Covid, and a critical job loss, we have found we can no longer keep up with our bills and some of our most critical care (Mayo Clinic, RGCC and all Functional therapies) have been out-of-network and out-of-pocket. Over the past year of this journey, we have exhausted our resources, including our entire savings, to carry us through to this point. We are grateful for the treatments we have been able to do so far, but very much appreciate any assistance to continue to receive the care that has been the most effective, and the best chance for Amy’s complete healing.