A Melbourne mum’s 40th birthday took a turn for the worse this year when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
On August 26, a day that should have been filled with celebration, Dominica Graham was told she has Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).
The communications and engagement advisor to the City of Yarra, who shares two children, aged 7 and 4, with her husband Sam Graham, is now in a fight for her life.
TNBC is harder to treat because it does not express genes for oestrogen, progesterone and HER2, which makes it difficult to find where the cancer is coming from, Leslie Chong, CEO and managing director Imugene, a biotech company focused on cancer research and development, told Yahoo News Australia.
Ms Chong, a close friend of Ms Graham, has been working with the 40-year-old as she undergoes treatment.
“She’s a bright, brilliant young woman who just started her family,” she said of her friend, adding that Ms Graham has had an incredible attitude despite the diagnosis and undergoing treatment alone in hospital during coronavirus.
Shockingly, Ms Graham had just undergone her scheduled mammogram and been given the all-clear one month before she discovered a lump and learned of her diagnosis.
“It goes to show how quickly TNBC can grow and spread and why it is important for women to take the time to put their health first, Ms Chong said.
The mum of two is undergoing a combination of drugs, but family and friends have rallied around her to fundraise $65,000 so she can undergo an immunotherapy treatment called Keytruda that has shown good results for TNBC during current clinical trials.
The treatment is not available on insurance but is being used to treat melanoma, lung, head and neck cancer.
It is unknown how long until it will be before it is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat breast cancer, Ms Chong said.
“Access to this drug could make a life-saving difference for her and her family,” she said in a GoFundMe page for the family titled “I was expecting cake, instead I got cancer”.
“Her family are desperate to do everything they can to get her better and have had to battle all of this alone during lockdown.”
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