Everything about island life in Kauai, Hawaii seemed perfect to Diana Singh, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The diagnosis came as a surprise in January 2022. Diana didn’t have any symptoms before doctors found stage 2 HER2-positive breast cancer in her first routine mammogram at the age of 40. Diana immediately made an appointment with an oncologist to address the aggressive cancer. But there wasn’t a permanent oncologist on her small island so she had to see a rotating group of doctors. Each suggested different treatment plans. Confused and overwhelmed, Diana reached out to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore for a second opinion.
She was only intending to make one trip there to get a treatment plan she could take to doctors in Hawaii. But JHU offered her a chance to take part in a clinical trial to test a treatment free of the one medication that most often wears down the body and causes adverse reactions. A busy, working mother of two – Diana was interested, even when she learned it would require her to relocate to Hopkins for several months.
Deciding that was the best route, Diana and her husband Ranjeet pulled their girls out of school and moved to Baltimore from April through July 2022. Diana scaled back her remote work, the family rented an apartment and costs mounted. “It was expensive. Clearly, this isn’t something you plan for in advance and there wasn’t time to prepare our home to sublet it. So we just had to take on the extra expense of an apartment in Baltimore. We knew it was the right choice but it would have been a real financial stress for sure without Lazarex,” Diana explains.
Diana learned about Lazarex Cancer Foundation when she signed up for the trial. “I was so happy and relieved to learn they could help with some of our travel costs. They didn’t cover 100% but they did help with some of the cost and that was definitely one less thing to worry about,” she explains.
After four months, Diana and her family moved back to Hawaii and she continued to make the trip back and forth every three months, staying for two weeks at a time. The great news is – the treatment is working. It’s not causing debilitating side effects and it is eradicating her cancer. By June 2023 she is expected to be cancer free and able to stop making the cross-country trips.
In the meantime, she’s back to working full time, has run a 5K with one daughter and is once again enjoying outdoor island life with her family through hiking, paddle boarding and more.
“Without Lazarex’s help, this would have been so much more stressful – mentally and physically because I would have had to work a lot more to try and cover the travel bills,” Diana says. “Having this financial support makes a world of difference and for me, it was also a really important touch point providing additional support on my cancer journey and helping make healing possible for me.”