Buddy Check 12: A Sikeston woman's fight for life - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Buddy Check 12: A Sikeston woman's fight for life

By Stephanie Byars  bio - email

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Julie Heppe looks like any other proud mom, watching her 11-year-old daughter Rebecca ride horses. But this mom is a fighter.

"Breast cancer has been a common household name at our house," Heppe said. "My daughter doesn't know a time when I didn't have breast cancer."

Heppe got her first breast cancer diagnosis at 25 years old. She's been through it all. A lumpectomy, radiation, mastectomy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, recurrences and 18 years later, Heppe battles stage 4 breast cancer.

Despite it all, her friends will tell you, Heppe's never let cancer get her down.

But two years ago, she was ready to give up.

"It seems like my disease was just getting worse," Heppe said. "I wasn't getting any better. I was sick all the time. I was about ready to quit."

That's when her doctor told her about Avastin, a tumor slowing drug.

It treats advanced breast cancer that's spread to other parts of the body, like in Heppe's case, to her lungs.

Today she takes Avastin every 2 weeks and calls it a life-saver.

"It has stopped the growth of my tumor," Heppe said. "I feel like I was given my life back, I feel good again."

That's why in December, Heppe was shocked to hear that the FDA was taking Avastin off the market for use to treat advanced breast cancer.

"This is my drug, this my life," Heppe said. "This drug gave me my life back. You're going to take it from me?"

Researchers say the drug failed to extend lives in clinical trials, and it carries a small risk of devastating, sometimes deadly, side effects.

However, Heppe says she's just one of many women, who are living proof, that this drug works.

"Even if that drug gave me five months, two months, two weeks, it's given me a quality of life that cannot be measured by anything," Heppe said.  "If the FDA is able to take Avastin off the market, my quality of life will diminish."

She wants it known that her life and the lives of others battling this disease are worth fighting for.

So she's taking her fight to the web, with a blog to get her message out.

"She doesn't like a lot of attention drawn on herself, but she's come for help for her and every other woman out there that's fighting this," childhood friend Ronda Smith said.

"I want to live, I don't want cancer to decide how I feel," Heppe added.

Avastin's maker has appealed the FDA's ruling.

In the meantime, doctors can still prescribe Avastin for breast cancer patients, since approval still holds for other cancers.

However, some insurers may stop covering the drug for breast cancer.

The cost is as high as $88,000 a year out of pocket.

If you want to support Heppe's fight, find out how you can do so on her blog by clicking here.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

  • SPONSORED BY SOUTHEAST HEALTHHealthMore>>

  • Spouses can boost early detection for melanoma patients

    Spouses can boost early detection for melanoma patients

    Wednesday, April 18 2018 1:55 PM EDT2018-04-18 17:55:30 GMT
    New research says they tend to be diagnosed in earlier more treatable stages than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced. (Source: Raycom Media)New research says they tend to be diagnosed in earlier more treatable stages than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced. (Source: Raycom Media)

    There's an extra bonus to marriage for melanoma patients: New research says they tend to be diagnosed in earlier more treatable stages than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced.

    There's an extra bonus to marriage for melanoma patients: New research says they tend to be diagnosed in earlier more treatable stages than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced.

  • RECALL: Schnucks, Walmart, Sams recall lettuce sold at stores

    RECALL: Schnucks, Walmart, Sams recall lettuce sold at stores

    Tuesday, April 17 2018 5:06 PM EDT2018-04-17 21:06:36 GMT
    There is an investigation into a multi-state cluster of E. coli infections linked to chopped romaine lettuce. (Source: Raycom Media)There is an investigation into a multi-state cluster of E. coli infections linked to chopped romaine lettuce. (Source: Raycom Media)

    There is an investigation into a multi-state cluster of E. coli infections linked to chopped romaine lettuce. 

    There is an investigation into a multi-state cluster of E. coli infections linked to chopped romaine lettuce. 

  • Botched cancer test results caused healthy patients to get unnecessary treatment

    Botched cancer test results caused healthy patients to get unnecessary treatment

    Tuesday, April 17 2018 1:22 PM EDT2018-04-17 17:22:29 GMT
    Tuesday, April 17 2018 1:22 PM EDT2018-04-17 17:22:29 GMT
    Of the three who were wrongly diagnosed with cancer, two underwent lumpectomies and radiation treatments, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. (Source: Pixabay)Of the three who were wrongly diagnosed with cancer, two underwent lumpectomies and radiation treatments, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. (Source: Pixabay)

    Of the three who were wrongly diagnosed with cancer, two underwent lumpectomies and radiation treatments.

    Of the three who were wrongly diagnosed with cancer, two underwent lumpectomies and radiation treatments.

Powered by Frankly