At the time of her diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer on Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, Karen was already a nearly 16-year survivor of concurrent primary cancers of the uterus and ovaries. Following a lengthy interval of testing to determine what was causing recurrent “chest attacks,” most of which involved doctors looking for gall bladder causes, a CT scan of her chest finally revealed masses in her right lung’s lower lobe and on the hepatic dome of her liver.
During the first 2 1/2 years, Karen was treated with chemotherapy and Avastin maintenance therapy. Eventually, she moved on to immunotherapy, with a side course of IMRT radiation. After about 14 months of Opdivo (Nivolumab) treatment, Karen became the first patient worldwide to enter into a combination phase 2 clinical trial consisting of bi-weekly Nivolumab along with daily oral Sitravatinib (in the VEGF class of drugs) therapy. She remains in this trial and saw a nearly 20% shrinkage of her tumors with the initial scan after the trial began.
Throughout her treatments which, as of mid-2017, have been ongoing for more than 4 1/2 years, Karen continues to work full-time for a large research and development company and has become a patient spokesman and advocate. She maintains an active Facebook (Trekking Through Cancerland) and Twitter (@cancertrek) presence, and accepts speaking opportunities whenever they present themselves.
Karen also enjoys traveling and seeing new sites around the world. Summer is her season and baseball is a sport she loves. You’ll never go wrong if you talk to her about Washington Nationals baseball.