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Personalized medicine gives Vancouver Island teen the gift of time

In the spring of 2018, 15-year-old Michelle Reilly started to notice pins and needles in her feet. Soon after, her discomfort escalated into pain and numbness, eventually leaving Michelle completely paralyzed from the waist down. Just days after her 16th birthday she was diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer called high-grade Glioblastoma Multiforme.

After a grueling treatment journey of chemo and radiation, Michelle’s cancer continued to progress. It was during this time that Michelle was enrolled in BC Cancer’s Personalized Onco-Genomics Program (POG) that revealed an innovative treatment option - an immunotherapy clinical trial that would be infused once every two weeks.

While on her new treatment, Michelle showed great progress. Her tumour shrank, she was able to walk with arm support, and was feeling positive about her situation. Sadly, just seven months later, in early October 2019, Michelle’s cancer progressed again.

Today, 17-year-old Michelle is facing further cancer progression and requires a wheelchair but she remains hopeful for the future.

Michelle and her mother, Carla Thomson, are optimistic her POG analysis will provide her with another treatment option.

“The science and advancements make us really hopeful for the future,” says Carla. “Even if it doesn’t pan out for Michelle, we feel it’s all worthwhile for future pediatric patients.”

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