family at the beach

Amber's Story

Surviving the Pandemic in More Than One Way

“Learning that I had breast cancer was absolutely a total surprise,” says Amber Roberson, who has had no evidence of disease for 3+ years.

“It started when I discovered the lump. I didn’t know anything about any family history of breast cancer,” says Amber.  “It was perhaps a taboo subject for past generations to talk about, so I only found out about my family history after the diagnosis.

“Since I was young and unaware of breast cancer in my family, I decided to have genetic testing, which revealed that I had the BRCA1 gene as well,” Amber recounts.  “Knowing about my genetics was a helpful tool for preventing other cancers in the future, not only for me but for my family, as well.  I was found to have Triple-negative breast cancer.

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-negative breast Cancer (TNBC) is a fast-growing cancer that requires aggressive treatment.

“My cancer isn’t estrogen positive—it’s not hormone-related,” Amber explains.  “The definition is a breast cancer that tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.”   

Researchers have developed drug treatments that can block these three proteins, preventing cancer cells from growing, and eventually killing the cells.  Since TNBC cells don’t rely on these proteins to grow, they don’t respond to drugs that block these proteins. As a result, Triple-negative breast cancer is harder to treat than other types of breast cancer.

Fighting Cancer During the Pandemic

After diagnosis, Amber met with her surgeon, Dr. Megan Baker, who referred her to Dr. David Ellison as her oncologist. 

“I first met Dr. Ellison in December 2019 as a 36-year-old female who had just been diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer,” recounts Amber. “Upon meeting him, I felt that he truly had my well-being in mind when explaining what my diagnosis meant for not only myself but for my husband, Kevin. “Dr. Ellison took the time to answer all our questions and to explain the treatment plan to us in terms we understood.”

Right when Amber was ready to start the aggressive treatment needed to fight her TNBC, the global pandemic hit with full force.

“I had no idea that the world would shut down in just a few short months,” says Amber. “What already felt like a lonely time was magnified by COVID-19.   For example, because of COVID-19 preventative measures, my husband couldn’t join me for treatments, but my nurses stayed with me and were wonderful.” 

Cutting Edge Treatment and Three Years Cancer Free

A ray of hope for Amber’s difficult diagnosis was when Dr. Ellison told her that she was a candidate for an oral chemotherapy treatment, Lynparza, a new medication that had just been used in a clinical trial for her specific type of breast cancer.

“Dr. Ellison was able to start me on this medication which resulted in a pathological complete response!” says Amber. “I responded well to it, and it shrunk the tumor.  Later, following my bilateral double mastectomy in April of 2020, I underwent 4 rounds of follow-up chemotherapy and reconstruction surgery. I have gone 3+ years with no evidence of disease and I can't thank Dr. Ellison and his team enough for all that they did for me and my family.”

Thanks to your generosity as a Roper St. Francis donor, women like Amber, even with a difficult diagnosis, can get the most advanced treatment to fight breast cancer. Thanks to philanthropic support, we can invest in cutting-edge technology and treatments that make lifesaving care a reality for many others like Amber.

With regular checkups, Amber is working to remain cancer-free and can look forward to living life fully again with her husband and stepsons.

Subscribe to The Foundation News!

Copyright © 2024 Roper St. Francis Foundation All rights reserved. Pencil
Roper St. Francis Foundation
100 Calhoun Street, Suite 210
Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: (843) 720-1205

Your support matters, donate now.

Back to Top