Shawna Stengle Patient Testimonial
Shawna Stengle is an active, health-conscious wife and mother of three young girls. She’s a regular at her daughters’ sporting events and a passionate personal trainer and fitness instructor at a local fitness studio. When she has time to herself, you might even catch her standing still, reading a good book or binge-watching a TV series.
A long family history of breast cancer, however, was always something that lingered in the back of Shawna’s mind. She made regular mammograms a priority in maintaining her physical health, alongside the many activities she enjoys, like running, walking outdoors and cycling. However, in December 2018, after several years of normal scans, Shawna noticed a lump in her right breast.
Soon after, she went to her gynecologist for initial testing, including a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. In January 2019, Shawna received her diagnosis: Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer. Her gynecologist directed her to a surgical oncologist and medical oncologist for next steps.
Going into the first consultation following her diagnosis, Shawna was cautiously optimistic. She hoped treatment would be minimally invasive, that she would feel well enough to be there for her family, and that she could keep her hair. As prepared as she was, she felt distracted and overwhelmed with emotions during that first discussion. She thought to herself, “I do not want cancer to rule my life. How can I be sure I’m making the right decisions to help me win this fight?”
Before she went through with her treatment plan, chemotherapy followed by a bilateral mastectomy, Shawna wanted to be sure that the decisions she and her care team made were going to be the best for her. Using her tissue sample, a molecular profile was performed where Shawna and her oncologists learned her cancer did not have many of the biomarkers needed to indicate targeted therapy or immunotherapy, which confirmed that chemotherapy would be the best option. The results gave Shawna and her husband confidence in her treatment plan and, most importantly, peace of mind.
Today, Shawna says she feels fortunate to be on the other side of her disease, and able to share her experience in a way that may help others. “If you are like me, I wanted to know everything about my cancer and everyone should know the molecular make up of their cancer.” For Shawna and her oncologists, the information was reassuring as they navigated her treatment. For others, it can redirect their treatment plan and prevent cycling through different therapies until the right approach is found. In reflecting on her own journey with breast cancer, Shawna insists, “I am changed, I am scarred, but I am not defeated.”
Your doctor can personalize your disease management plan by tailoring your treatment to the specific biomarkers found in your cancer.