“I also have a small spot on my lung and in a lymph node,” said Nicole.
“My colon tumour is large, but does not obstruct my bowels in any way.
“My doctors believe it has been there for years but my knowledge of this disease only began the day I sat in an oncologist’s room and received my dire prognosis,” Nicole said.
“Statistics suggest I might live another two to three years,” said Nicole.
“The tumours in my liver are large and scattered in a haphazard and particularly frustrating manner.
“A couple of them are up against some pretty important veins and ducts, which has made cutting them out impossible.
“Biomarker testing was performed on my first biopsy to see if there was anything more targeted that could be used to improve my outcome,” Nicole said, “but I was told there wasn’t.”
“When I stepped out of that oncologist’s office with my husband and our mums, I was in a pit of despair.
“We all were,” said Nicole.
“We decided to seek a second opinion and the new oncologist suggested I consider full, next-generation sequencing (referred to in Australia as a Comprehensive Cancer Panel Analysis) in order to understand any other potential treatment options.
“Although the sequencing cost around $2000, I consider it worth it, as it has provided a clear understanding of my cancer (micro satellite stable, KRAS G12V mutation and somatic mutations in APC and PIK3CA).
“Armed with this information, my team is poised to act as new treatments arise,” Nicole said.
“There isn’t anything specific that has passed clinical trials to date, but there is promising work being done using T Cells to target KRAS G12V mutations, which is really exciting.”
After considering Nicole’s age, health and her ultimate goal, Nicole’s oncologist suggested she begin Folifirinox - irinotrcan, oxaliplatin, leucovorin, and fluorouracil - given with bevacizumab.
Precision medicines work in a variety of ways, including blocking receptors that send growth and survival signals into cells or engaging the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells and have revolutionised cancer treatment.
“There are many ways to break down and understand a cancer, right down to the DNA mutation that gave it life,” said Nicole.
Once these mutations are understood, targeted therapies can be used to inhibit cancer growth.
“My prognosis is now looking vastly different,” Nicole said.
“After so much bad news, I have received waves of good.
“My treatment is having an outstanding impact on my liver tumours, to the extent that they are almost all ‘switched off’, no longer showing active cancer.
“My ultimate goal, to have liver surgery, the gold standard of treatment options and the most viable hope for a cure, is now being actively considered,” Nicole said.
“Our next steps will be decided in just two weeks and hopefully, I will move on to considering the monumental change that is liver and bowel surgery.
“I am up for it.”
Nicole has joined with Bowel Cancer Australia and our international partners today, World Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (mCRC) Day, to raise awareness among patients, clinicians and policy-makers about the full range of tests and treatments available to advanced bowel cancer patients.
Together, with the help of Nicole and supporters like you, Get Personal aims to increase survival rates, improve quality of life and reduce variation in access to best treatment and care for people living with metastatic colorectal cancer around the world.
By campaigning together and learning from each other, we know we can make a difference.
Bowel cancer does not recognise borders, and neither do we.
For more information on the campaign and to find out how to take part visit the Get Personal website getpersonal.global.
If you would like to join Bowel Cancer Australia in making real change happen as a part of this campaign and have or have had bowel cancer we invite you to join us in sharing your experience, to help improve future bowel cancer treatment and care as part of this international collaboration.
If you wish to be kept informed about the Get Personal campaign and other work Bowel Cancer Australia is involved with to help save lives and improve the health and wellbeing of people living with bowel cancer, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.