Frances, the June 2012 Buddy of the Month!
ATLANTA -- Michele Torres sits in her Atlanta backyard, playing a mean game of tuggie with her Golden Retriever Clementine. She does it even though the pain in her wrists and hands - a side effect from breast cancer treatment, is excruciating.
Eighteen months after her radical mastectomy, she is still undergoing treatment.
"I'm on oral chemo for the next five years,"
Michele's treatment, the type of chemo used, could be different going forward. That's because a breakthrough study has identified four types of breast cancer.
"It really takes it to that level of personalized medicine," says Kimberly King Spohn, a genetics counselor at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.
King-Spohn says the new information will improve survival rates because doctors can treat women individually. For example one type of breast cancer closely resembles ovarian cancer, so it may respond better to similar treatment.
"Now you can have many women sitting in the same waiting room who all have breast cancer, who will get very different treatments based on the type of breast cancer they have, the stage that they're at, the age they might be at, the characteristics of their breast cancer, so it's going to help them have the best outcome without over treating them, too," she says.
Torres says, "That's awesome. To be able to target a cell and to be able to treat that type of cancer without wiping out the entire body would be amazing."
Torres didn't let the cancer stop her. We followed her to New York where she was runner up in a modeling contest sponsored by O magazine.
RELATED | Model patient Michele Torres inspires
This study could be key to more survivor success stories, like Torres.