Coming Full Circle: How a Patient Worked With a Breast Cancer Drug Years Before Reclassification of Her Disease Led to the Same Treatment


A patient with metastatic breast cancer shares how she learned that her disease was recently reclassified as HER-2 low, and what it was like to first learn about the FDA-approved drug years before she would be prescribed the treatment.

When Tiffany O’Donnell, an administrator at Penn State Health Breast Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, started taking notes about the drug Enhertu (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) in her office, she never expected that one day the medication would become a part of her treatment routine.

Tiffany O'Donnell

Tiffany O'Donnell learned about the breast cancer drug Enhertu (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) through her job as an administrator years ago. Then, after her primary breast cancer metastasized and her disease was reclassified as HER2 low, she was prescribed the same drug that she once read about.

Photo credit: Ngeuanema Herb/Yenma K. Photography

O’Donnell had just moved back to Pennsylvania with her family in January 2014 when she started experiencing some breast pain. After seeing her doctor and getting a biopsy, she was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer at only 33 years old.

Five years after receiving a double mastectomy (the complete removal of both breasts), doctors discovered that her cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones. She ended up receiving eight rounds of chemotherapy to treat her disease.

Wanting to help other patients like herself, O’Donnell applied for a job at the Penn State Health Breast Center two years after her first diagnosis. This is where she would first learn about Enhertu, a targeted therapy that received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in August for women with HER-2 low metastatic breast cancer.

Of note, Enhertu is also FDA-approved for other types of breast cancer, including HER2-positive disease.
In today’s episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, O’Donnell discusses what keeps her going in her journey with metastatic breast cancer, how she became classified as a patient with HER-2 low disease and much more.

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