Donors are making new treatments available to Manitobans

It was in the fall of 2014 that the Schultz family’s world was turned upside down. Shelley was experiencing what she thought was a migraine. This was not unusual for her as she had suffered from them for years. But this time it was persistent and her family was concerned.

After a few very stressful days that entailed multiple hospital visits, her husband Al brought her to the Health Sciences Centre. Upon arrival it was quickly determined that the cause of Shelley’s migraine was from a tumour at the base of her brain. She needed surgery immediately to save her life.

“I was at work when I noticed my dad had called and left a voicemail,” said Shelley’s daughter Kari. “It was extremely rare for my dad to call me at work. I could hear in my father’s voice how upset he was. I listened in shock as he told me that my mom was in the hospital about to receive life-saving surgery.”

a middle-aged woman with brown hair walking her young granddaughter in a park setting on a gravel pathway.

It wasn’t long after her surgery that Shelley was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to the base of her brain. The Schultz family received the news that Shelley had a projected life span of three to six months. They were devastated but didn’t give up hope.

After undergoing donor funded genetic testing, it was determined that Shelley had a gene mutation contributing to the growth of her cancer. This made her eligible to receive a recently approved therapy and later join a clinical trial at CancerCare Manitoba. Access to clinical trials is essential so that Manitoban’s like Shelley are able to receive the very latest cancer therapies available.

“It was really exciting to hear that there was a treatment that could potentially work for my mom,” said Kari. “It gave us some hope for the future.”

Shelley started on the targeted therapy immediately and after a couple of months, the doctors were happy to see the tumours on her brain and lungs were no longer growing.

Today, nearly eight years after the overwhelming prognosis of three to six months, Shelley is on an updated version of her targeted therapy that is even more effective in fighting her cancer with even fewer side effects. Her tumours have shrunk or remain stable and the time between scans has increased.

Today Shelley is living her life to the fullest. She exercises daily, eats well and spends a lot of time with her five-year-old granddaughter Londyn. All of these things bring her joy and keep her feeling optimistic about the future.

Thanks to donor support, Shelley has more tomorrows with her family. The entire Schultz family is grateful for their commitment to advancing research and clinical trials at CancerCare Manitoba.