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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Fight for Life: Cancer patient works to keep drug an option

Saturday, January 8, 2011

(Photo)
Cancer patient Julie Heppe receives an Avastin treatment at Missouri Delta Medical Center's Infusion Center in Sikeston. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration recommended it no longer be provided as an option for Stage 4 breast cancer patients such as Heppe. If Congress OKs the decision, it will only be available in a generic form, which will cost up to $100,000 annually and not be covered by insurance.
( Michelle Felter, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Julie Heppe said her 12-year-old nephew once asked "Why does Aunt Julie live forever with cancer, while everyone else seems to die from it?"

And since Dec. 16, the rural Sikeston resident said she's learned what her mission in life is -- to fight a decision the Food and Drug Administration made.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she has battled the disease as it's come back four times. The last time the cancer reappeared -- in 2005-- it had reached the lining of the lungs and was classified as Stage 4.

For the past two years, Heppe has taken the drug Avastin to help halt her cancer. For the past six months or so, there have been rumblings the FDA would take it off the market for Stage 4 breast cancer patients such as herself.

And that happened on Dec. 16. Heppe said she woke up from a nap to hear the news on TV.

"I heard two words -- FDA and Avastin," she said. After she rewound the program, Heppe learned that the FDA had recommended to no longer provide the treatment as an option for those with Stage 4 breast cancer, due to side effects experienced by some patients.

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