Dana Slee Patient Testimonial
Dana Slee and her husband James live in an idyllic region of North Carolina in the forested area of Raeford. Their story began when they met and fell in love as 14-year-old teenagers, only to be separated by their parents soon after. Life ultimately took them in separate directions, but never losing hope, they found each other again 37 years later and married. While on the road to happily-ever-after, however, Dana was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Having already been separated once before, they were determined to overcome the disease to make sure they had more time to make memories together.
In 2018 at the age of 65, Dana began noticing a nagging pain in her side, and over the next two years she saw various specialists to try to determine the cause. Finally, her physician noticed a small mass and ordered a biopsy. When the pathology results came back, Dana was stunned to learn she had late-stage, low-grade serous ovarian cancer, as she had previously undergone a radical hysterectomy fifteen years earlier. Unfortunately, cancer cells had likely been left behind and had now spread into her omentum and colon.
Dana was devastated and confused. After consulting with her physician, she underwent an eight-hour surgery and had 27 pounds of cancer removed from her body. Exhausted and weak, Dana spent over a week in the hospital, enduring two different blood transfusions, and all she could think was, “Did they get all the cancer this time?”
Meanwhile, her oncologist sent a biopsy retrieved from the surgery to Caris for molecular profiling. “My doctor said he requests molecular profiling for all his patients with this type of cancer,” remembers Dana. “He said this test can tell you exactly what kind of cancer you have at the moment – and how to treat it.”
Once the Caris profiling results came back, she and her doctor were able to review her specific treatment options based on the report’s findings. Amazingly, it was determined the best course of treatment was not traditional chemotherapy, as Dana’s cancer was in fact hormone-driven. Her oncologist recommended that she start and remain on letrozole, a type of hormone therapy drug.
After sharing the news with her family, Dana’s stepson Joshua, an epidemiologist with a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, wanted to review the Caris results more closely. “The biggest thing that sticks out to me on the molecular profiling report that Caris provides is the depth and magnitude in which they do it,” he said. “The report gave us hope that this wouldn’t be the death sentence that we thought it was.”
Today, Dana remains cancer free and has become an advocate for molecular profiling. She believes that anyone with cancer should have a molecular profile report done. “Why take the chance to not have all of the information needed to deal with your future?” she says. “Thanks to the test from Caris, I have a future now.”
Joshua B. Slee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology at DeSales University