Juggling a Career and Navigating Cancer Treatment

February 18, 2021
Ryan McDonald

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Jessica Skarzynski
Jessica Skarzynski

This week on the “CURE® Talks Cancer” podcast, we spoke with Evofem Biosciences founder and CEO Saundra Pelletier about what it was like to go through the shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis while also navigating a career, and explaining how her product, which is now FDA-approved, can help patients with cancer and survivors improve their sexual quality of life.

In 2018, Evofem Biosciences founder and CEO Saundra Pelletier was hard at work developing Phexxi, a non-hormonal contraceptive gel for women. Amid a phase 3 clinical trial evaluating its efficacy, Pelletier - who had been “religious” about health checkups and had just received a clean mammogram the year before - was blindsided by a diagnosis of aggressive, stage 3 breast cancer.

The news was, as she says, "Shocking in a way that is so hard to describe.” Pelletier said she was not even sure how to feel or react. After dealing with her immediate concerns about her son, Pelletier’s worry soon shifted to her ability to stay in her role at Evofem.

But after reassuring discussions with coworkers, she was able to continue to run the company while undergoing treatments including chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and a hysterectomy. Today, she’s talking with CURE about what it was like to go through the shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis while also navigating a career, and explaining how her product, which is now FDA-approved, can help patients with cancer and survivors improve their sexual quality of life.