Kerry Duncan’s story

Kerry was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September 2015. She was told she was ‘lucky’ because she got it early and the lump was only 2.5cm. At the time, there were some shadows on her bones but doctors did not think there was anything to worry about. She had a lumpectomy in October 2015 and 5 lymph nodes were removed as a precaution.

Kerry Duncan's Immunotherapy story

Following the operation in late October it was revealed that cancer was in one lymph node and a subsequent PET scan showed that the shadows on her bones were in fact cancer. The cancer had metastised and was now considered to be stage 4 cancer.

At this stage, Kerry was told her cancer was “life-shortening” and there was basically nothing else that could be done. Her sister Sally, out of desperation for some hope, asked if there were any medical advances that could help. Two days later, the Registrar called and said she read about a new trial being run by Peter Mac which involved immune boosting therapy and would she be interested?

Kerry was absolutely in. She loved the idea of a drug that would help her body heal itself.

Requirements were tight for the world-first clinical trial being led by Peter Mac’s Associate Professor Sherene Loi and Radiation Oncologist Dr Steven Davis, but Kerry was one of the first of 15 people selected to be involved.

She started her immunotherapy treatment in January 2016 which consisted of five lots of SABR (Stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy which is high precision and high dose radiotherapy) and around 8 rounds of immune boosting drugs administered every 3 weeks.

During the trial Kerry made sure she ate highly nutritious foods, got plenty of rest and exercise. She was determined to provide her body with as much support as possible.

Four months into the trial she received the best phone call of her life. The message was ‘no sign of cancer…it has all disappeared’.

Kerry finished the treatment (6 months all up) and recently had her one year anniversary check-up which involved a Bone Scan, PET scan and CT scan. Again, all tests were clear.

There were some nodules on her lungs but the team is confident this is a side effect of the immunisation drugs which is common in patients.

Kerry is now not taking any drugs and will continue with follow up tests over the next few years.

She says:
“I feel so blessed, grateful and excited about the future. I think my cancer journey has been a gift; I have learnt so much about health and healing and have a newfound appreciation and love of life. I focus on work life balance and try not to ‘sweat the small’ stuff (well not too much).

“I am so grateful to my family, friends and work colleagues and the amazing team of oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, nurses, doctors, technicians, scientists and all the team at Peter Mac who made this all possible.

It will be wonderful to see immune boosting therapy being made available for everyone.”