Judith Frye’s Patient Story
If you are fortunate enough to know Judith Frye, you learn two things about her quickly: she is highly intelligent and she always does her homework. Judith earned a Geology degree from the Colorado School of Mines, but upon graduation found that the oil industry was in a slump. A friend’s uncle hired her to work with him at Cigna, and Judith rose to Vice President of Marketing during her 30-year career with the insurance giant.
Judith was the picture of health before her diagnosis of stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in September 2018. She did not smoke or drink and worked out daily. She eschewed taking drugs, opting instead to find alternative and natural remedies. Her oncologist, Dr. Minal Barve, did a genetic marker test on her tumor and discovered her tumor was an ER+/ HER2 mutation. This combination indicates that the tumor grows because it stops the body’s immune system from attacking and killing the cancer cells. Dr. Barve ordered the immunotherapy treatment of Kisqali (600 mg) and Letrozole (2.5mg) daily and monitored Judith’s progress over the next 22 months.
When she was diagnosed with her cancer, Judith immediately became a student of her disease, constantly researching it. She learned about the drugs used to treat the cancer, her particular mutation, and survival rates. She read up on every drug and treatment Dr. Barve prescribed. Over the next two years, Judith kept copious notes about her treatments and test results.
After over a year of positive results, in July 2020, a scan showed that Judith’s tumor was progressing and no longer responding to treatment. Dr. Barve suggested a clinical trial at Mary Crowley Cancer Research.
Judith quickly began a trial that had her in the clinic often and for long days. While initial results were good, after her 6th treatment, Judith experienced an allergic reaction that meant she could no longer continue the trial.
Judith was disappointed with how things turned out, and when Dr. Barve suggested she start another trial, Judith was not certain she wanted to do that again. “A trial is a serious time commitment.” Judith would later explain. However, Dr. Barve believed that the trial she had in mind for Judith would be beneficial, and Judith decided to try a trial one more time. Judith is thrilled she did.
Judith’s second trial began in November 2020 and was a much easier experience. “My current trial is a walk in the park. My tumors have shrunk by more than 83%—many are no longer visible—and I have had four months of normal tumor marker tests.” Judith researched her new trial drug and the pharmaceutical company that developed it. Judith discovered that the company’s founder had a sister who died from the same form of breast cancer that Judith has, and the drug was designed to prevent the mutation from stopping the immune system from killing the cancer cells.
Judith feels that she won the lottery having Dr. Barve as her oncologist because of her personalized approach to medicine. Judith noted that there are various kinds of breast cancer and treating it is not a generic process. She wants to help spread the word about the drug options available to breast cancer patients. Judith also has high praise for other staff at Mary Crowley Cancer Research. She is particularly impressed with Jackeline Castillo, Mary Crowley’s Social Worker, praising Jackie’s ability and patience in explaining to our patients and families how the system works in terms they can easily understand.
Judith is ready to start getting back to the things she loves most – cooking, reading, and physical activity. She is grateful for her clinical trial experience, saying, “when I needed hope, Mary Crowley Cancer Research was there.”