Lara Brown Ferry Phyllodes Tumor Fighter

First post: Mar 30, 2019 Latest post: Feb 14, 2020
Everyday I have friends asking how they can help and while I’d prefer to be the one helping others, I am forever grateful for the love and support that I’ve already received and welcome all prayers, healing thoughts, and well-wishes that continue to come my way
I have an absolutely incredible, exceptional life: two miracle kids, a strong husband, amazing family and friends, and a job that I love. Many of you already know that for almost five years now I’ve been battling cancer in between having babies, teaching, taking master’s classes, and enjoying every minute of this incredible, exceptional life. However, cancer still sucks. The fight to beat my cancer is proving to be a long marathon in which stamina is key and speed doesn’t actually end the race any faster. My first lump occurred in 2014 (misdiagnosed as benign) and was ultimately discovered to be an extremely rare form of an aggressive sarcoma cancer called malignant phyllodes tumors.

Recent developments

After an aggressive recurrence of Phyll in February 2019, my doctors began collaborating with other doctors all around the country to determine what the best course of action might be to #killphyll for good. March 25th I began intense and lengthy, daily radiation treatments with a 50/50 shot at beating Phyll. Three days later, I found another lump (pathology reported it was indeed Phyll), after 30 sessions, twice a day, Phyll came back still.

I woke up, picked a new battle plan and never second guessed it. In May I flew to Houston TX and met DR B at MD Anderson. There he told me about a very new chemotherapy that was just designed. After speaking to my family, we decided to take a leap of faith and take that opportunity. After 8 weeks in Houston, monitoring the chemo, Phyll, and my tolerance, by August there were early signs the treatment was indeed working! Hallelujah

To date. I have done 6 rounds of chemotherapy, where every 16 days I go into the hospital for a 4 day stay for chemo infusions. My tumors are so small, I can barely find them now! Because of the toxicity of chemo, there are some brick walls coming. I can’t stay in this treatment forever. So right now is where my team and I need to give everything we’ve got.

“Phyll is lazy and sleepy right now” Dr B says. So let’s seize this moment.

Thursday November 14 I will undergo a very major surgery that should take everything they can out in order to prevent a recurrence. I will have my left to cage removed, where there is cancer growing. And then the ribs will be replaced with a combination of pig/beef parts and 3D printing.

Phyllodes tumors in a nutshell

Borderline and malignant phyllodes tumors only are found in about 1% of the population. . Malignant phyllodes tumors are an even smaller subset of that percentage which means research is extremely limited in terms of both treatment options and prognosis. It’s considered an aggressive sarcoma cancer of the connective tissues of the breast (not in the breast, but beneath the breast which often makes it difficult to detect). Surgery is the go-to treatment because there’s little to zero evidence supporting this cancer’s response to radiation and chemotherapy. Lastly, if this cancer metastasizes, treatment options cease to exist.

Enter Phyll

To date, there have been four recurrences of this cancer (aka Phyll), roughy nine related surgeries (including a mastectomy, reconstructive surgeries, and even surgery last fall to remove my initial implant do to a recall - what?!), and countless other medical procedures, tests, and doctor visits. And, while pregnant with Oliver in 2017, I also had thyroid cancer which resulted in more surgery.

Why I created this GoFundMe

As you can imagine the medical bills (from doctor visits, surgeon and anesthesiologist fees, facility fees, MRIs, pathology reports, lab work, etc.) continue to mount up without an end in sight. I’ve also had to take quite a bit of time off of work for recovery from surgeries, doctor visits, and now Texas trips, and new medical needs.

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