Appleton woman enjoys wedding day thanks to experimental breast cancer treatment
Tina Deeg was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer two years ago and joined a clinical trial in Madison
APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Friday, Oct. 13, is Metastatic Breast Cancer Day, marking a disease that affects so many families in our area. The American Cancer Society reports more than 300,000 people in our country will be diagnosed this year.
It’s been two years since Tina Deeg of Appleton learned she had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, meaning the cancer spread to other parts of her body.
As the cancer progressed, she found out she would likely lose her hair if she started an aggressive form of chemotherapy. This was especially scary because she was just months from walking down the aisle at her wedding.
“Every woman dreams of styling their hair and having a beautiful dress. I just wanted to have a normal life,” Tina said.
That’s when she went to U.W. Health’s Carbone Cancer Center in Madison and joined a groundbreaking clinical trial.
Her oncologist, Dr. Malinda West, said she’s responding very well to immunotherapy and a targeted estrogen blocker.
Her treatment worked so well, she had a scare just one week after starting the trial when she noticed swelling in her breast.
Deeg remembered telling Dr. West: “She said Tina, I’m not gonna lie, this is really good or really really bad...”
“Initially we were quite concerned that this may represent, maybe, the tumor isn’t going to respond to the treatments we’re giving it...” Dr. West explained.
Testing revealed the swelling stemmed from ‘pseudoprogression’ with Deeg described as cancer cell death.
“She’s had a tremendous response with the tumor shrinking and I hope that we get to that no evidence of disease timepoint here soon,” Dr. West said. “She has had stable side effects that she’s acclimated really well to and don’t impact any of her daily life.”
Tina walked down the aisle with a full head of hair and loved ones at her side. It’s a goal she wasn’t always sure she’d be able to reach.
“When I came up from downstairs in the basement getting my hair all done and coming outside... I looked at everything. The people, the decorations. It was beautiful. It was everything I ever dreamed of,” Deeg expressed.
She celebrated alongside Dr. West who quickly became part of her support team.
“Highlight of my career is not an understatement... It’s very rewarding and I’m just grateful to be a part of it and be included in that way with her.”
She plans to stay on this treatment plan for as long as it keeps working.
”We say, you know, ‘What if we never got into this trial? Where would we be?’ I said, you know, I might be laying on the couch or sleeping or not feeling well, and that’s not me.”
Tina encourages anyone struggling with their treatment options to advocate for themselves.
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