Mary Chris Skeldon was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer more than 16 years ago.
"I was scheduled for a mastectomy, which never happen because it had already spread to my bones," she recalls.
She was told she had only 18 months to live. Determined to fight, Mary Chris tried a relatively new procedure at the time, stem cell tranplants. The procedure worked.
"I just tried to put one good day after the next. And pretty soon it turned from days, to months, to years," Skeldon explains.
After that, she was told she was cancer free. But in 2011, after 13 years, it came back.
"I thought I had beat it. But I decided I did it once, I'm going to do it again," said Mary Chris
The consumate fighter, Mary Chris searched for another treatment, and found an experimental new trial drug.
"The experimental drug that was just approved by the FDA last Friday[February 22], and has very very gentle side effects," she says.
The drug, brand name Kadcyla, is currently meant only for HER2 positive cancer, but this version of the drug is just the beginning. It works at a molecular level.
"The antibody recognizes that HER2 protein and binds to that protein. The chemotherapy that the antibody is armed with, is released inside the cell and destroys the tumor cell," explains Melody Cobleigh, MD, who is an oncologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
To break it downinto more simple terms, a protein disguised as a tumor cell with chemotherapy hidden inside, is accepted as part of the tumor, engulfed by it, then destroys the tumor from the inside. You can think of it as the "Trojan Horse" of cancer fighting.
The drug is said to be successful in roughly one third of it's patients.
These words are no doubt echoed by Mary Chris, who's seen a significant reduction in her tumors due to Kadcyla.
She says, with five weddings to attend this summer, including her son's, she's far to busy to let cancer slow her down.
"I'm just going to keep going and fighting and remaining positive... and i'm just gonna keep smiling," she says with a lage smile.
If ever there was a smile to represent that fight against cancer, Mary Chris Skeldon would be it.