How a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis Became the Best/Worst Thing to Happen to Gina


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Biomarker testing and unwavering support reshaped the narrative of Gina’s battle against cancer

Gina, a patient with wild-type RAS metastatic colorectal cancer

Gina was compensated for this content

Gina, a patient with wild-type RAS metastatic colorectal cancer

Gina was compensated for this content

Before 2018, Gina lived a busy life raising four children with her husband Per, while pursuing and achieving her professional goals. During this time, she was heavily focused on advancing her career, which included working long hours during the weekdays and even into the weekends. But a life-changing diagnosis would soon shift her perspective.

Noticing a recent change to her appetite, Gina mentioned her unusual cravings and recent weight loss during a casual conversation with her boss. Sensing something may be amiss, she encouraged Gina to see her doctor. However, it took a while to get a colonoscopy, and eventually Gina started sleeping her weekends away due to the fatigue she experienced from the work week.

Prior to her appointment, she was lying in bed with her husband when she felt a mass under her rib. "That night, we went to bed holding hands because we knew then something was wrong," Gina recalls.

Listen to Gina's story

The colonoscopy confirmed a devastating diagnosis: she had stage four metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.1 The doctor told her the cancer had metastasized to her liver, covering most of it with tumors. Gina was told she had only one to two years to live.

Aware that fewer than 20% of people diagnosed with mCRC survive beyond five years, she wasn’t going to let that statistic set the tone for her journey.2 Gina was determined to defy the odds so that she could continue to be present in her family’s life.

“At first, I got the sense that the doctors were looking to prolong my life but not necessarily save my life,” she explains. “I am so grateful that I continued searching for a doctor who decided to treat me with curative intent.”

Throughout Gina’s treatment journey, she has undergone surgeries to remove parts of her colon and liver.3,4 Where possible, surgeries like these are used as an additional treatment approach and can often lead to improved outcomes for patients with colorectal liver metastases (CRLM), with a 5-year survival of 40-50%.3,4



One of the first steps in Gina’s treatment was to undergo biomarker testing, a process that identifies a patient’s unique tumor makeup to help doctors understand what’s driving the growth of the cancer and how it might respond to various therapies.5 This information is required for targeted therapy and may help doctors develop personalized treatment plans to specifically target that type of cancer.6

“I remember my doctor got out a piece of paper and started to map out the different protocols that would be driven by a biomarker test,” she recalls. “By the end, we had a full flowchart of what type of treatment may be expected, based on the results.”

The results of Gina's biomarker testing showed that the tumor was wild-type RAS, making her eligible for a targeted treatment as suggested by clinical guidelines.7,8

“I sometimes wonder about where I would be without the targeted treatment I received,” she says. “Without the biomarker testing, the targeted treatment wouldn’t have been a possibility.”

The wild-type RAS gene is fairly common in mCRC patients, presenting in about half of cases.9 However, not as many patients receive biomarker testing as they should, as recommended by clinical guidelines.7,8 This is a problem because knowing biomarker results helps physicians select treatments that are more likely to benefit their patients.

In addition to biomarker testing, Gina credits her family’s support as the driving force behind her positivity and resilience during her treatment journey.

As her biggest cheerleader, Per started a support group shortly after her diagnosis, and asked them to visualize stars working at her tumors. Over time, those stars represented Gina’s symbol for healing and support, ultimately becoming one of the “happiest accidents” of her journey.

Gina, Per and their kids

Gina, Per and their kids

“Besides the normal caregiving things that families do, they made it easy for others to support me,” she explains. “Having people from both my past and present rooting for me opened the door to understanding that I wasn’t alone in this journey, which meant the world.”

Gina’s biggest advice to patients is open yourself up to support. “There are people who have walked this path before who can help you cope with the physical and the emotional realities of what you might be going through,” she explains. “I underestimated how much people want to help, and knowing this now has made this journey easier and so much more valuable.”

For Gina, cancer was the “best/worst thing” to happen to her. Some may see Gina’s outlook on her cancer diagnosis as unorthodox, but to her, it embodies the shift of her mindset to valuing who she is rather than what she did.

“Being diagnosed with mCRC helped me become more connected to the people I love,” Gina reflects. “It showed me the power of vulnerability, and revealed the purpose of what I could do moving forward.”

Gina and her family

Gina and her family

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mCRC, talk to your doctor about biomarker testing. To learn more about wild-type RAS in mCRC and for additional information on biomarker testing that may lead to a targeted therapy, visit

This information reflects the experience of one individual patient, Gina. The experience of other patients may vary.

RAS, Rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog

©2024 Amgen Inc. All rights reserved.



1. Rawla P, et al. Prz Gastroenterol. 2019;14(2):89-103.
2. Biller LH, et al. JAMA. 2021;325(7):669-685.
3. Su YM, et al. Cancer Med. 2023;12(8):9559-9569.
4. Mayo Clinic. Colon Cancer. Accessed February 28, 2024.
5. Sarhadi VK, et al. Biomolecules. 2022;12(8):1021.
6. Ahmadzada T, et al. J Clin Med. 2018;7(6):153.
7. Morris VK, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2023;41:678-700.
8. Gutierrez M, et al. JCO Precis Oncol. 2019;3:PO.19.00274.
9. Zhao B, et al. Oncotarget. 2016;8(3):3980-4000.