Genomics saves West Vancouver woman’s life after facing aggressive ovarian cancer

Personalized onco-genomics program is BC Cancer’s flagship study in precision medicine

Two and a half years after beginning her journey on the personalized onco-genomics (POG) program and starting her tailored medication, Candy Woodward has been cancer-free.

Every three and a half hours, another woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Canada. In B.C, more than 300 women will be diagnosed with a form of ovarian cancer this year.

In the winter of 2014, this statistic included West Vancouver’s Candy Woodworth.

At her weekly Pilates class, Candy noticed she felt uncomfortable when doing a routine exercise. She went back to the class a week later, and noticed the same pain in her stomach and immediately made an appointment with her family doctor, who sent her for an urgent ultrasound.

“I hardly had my coat off when the phone rang and my doctor told me I had to come back immediately,” Candy says. “My husband and I both went back, and it was then we found out I had ovarian cancer.”

In March of 2015, Candy’s treatment plan began with surgery, where her tumour was removed, followed by 18 rounds of chemotherapy.

A year later, at one of Candy’s routine check-ups, her team discovered her cancer had returned, this time in her colon.

“My feelings at that point in time were still very positive – just get the job done, and that’s exactly how my team at BC Cancer approached it,” says Candy. She went in for surgery a second time.

Six months later, Candy’s cancer returned again, in the exact same place in her colon. “It was very unusual for it to return to the exact same place,” says Candy.

She underwent her third surgery.

With her cancer at an aggressive state, Candy was put forward as a prime candidate for an innovative, personalized cancer program at BC Cancer. She was put in touch with Dr. Anna Tinker, Provincial Gyne Oncology Tumour Group Chair and medical oncologist at BC Cancer.

The personalized onco-genomics (POG) program is BC Cancer’s flagship study in precision medicine and the first program of its kind to use whole genome analysis to inform individual treatment planning for patients.

Through this program, Dr. Tinker and team found that Candy’s tumour had a mutant BRCA gene, even though Candy herself did not carry the gene, and was able to match the tumour mutation to a clinical trial drug.

It’s been two and a half years and Candy has been cancer-free since she began her journey on the POG program and started her tailored medication.

“The POG program and the fact they found a drug for me has given me my life back,” says Candy. “It means everything – I now get the opportunity to be with my family and watch my grandchildren grow.”

You can help support the life-saving Personalized Onco-genomics program at BC Cancer by visiting: bccancerfoundation.com/POG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read