Skip to main content
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

From late-stage disease to remission--how local access to top cancer care played key role in a woman’s lung cancer treatment

Lisa Peltier, image courtesy of Lisa PeltierNearly three years since her cancer diagnosis, Lisa Peltier is feeling great, indulging her passion for hiking, traveling and working as a senior consultant in a successful health care consulting firm in Incline Village, where she lives with her husband. Lisa credits her good health to the state-of-the-art cancer care and expertise she received through the UC Davis Cancer Care Network, a unique partnership that links community oncologists with UC Davis cancer specialists, enabling clinicians to make more informed treatment decisions and deliver higher-quality care.

A stage-IV lung cancer diagnosis came as a shock to the physically fit non-smoker in early 2013, but local access to innovative cancer therapies has eased her journey, she says.

“Early on, I thought about going elsewhere for care,” she says. “Some even advised me — ‘You have to go somewhere else.’ They said, ‘You can’t get good care locally.’ But another friend, a nurse, said, ‘There’s a lot to be said about getting your care locally. Part of the healing process is being at home. Your family is there.’”

Treated at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee, part of Cancer Care Network, Lisa was connected to a multidisciplinary army of experts and resources in her own community.

Laurence Heifetz, the Tahoe Forest cancer center’s medical director and Peltier’s oncologist, brought her case to the weekly virtual tumor board, which included UC Davis specialists linked by teleconferencing technology with Tahoe Forest and physicians at three other hospital-based community cancer centers.

“Our intention was to do tri-modality therapy — she would receive chemotherapy and radiation up front in an effort to control the disease,” explained UC Davis thoracic surgeon Elizabeth David, who was at the tumor board meeting where Lisa’s case was discussed. “After that, if her disease hadn’t progressed, we would go on to surgery for local control of the tumor.”

Lisa, 61, spent most of the summer undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Truckee, close to home, her job and family.

Unfortunately, the tumor in her lung had metastasized, spreading to her bones. With surgery no longer an option, her doctor ordered more chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Through the cancer centers at UC Davis and Tahoe Forest, Lisa participated in two clinical trials. For the first, she took Zometa, a bone-strengthening drug for patients with metastatic disease designed to preserve bone and diminish disease progression. She was also put on Tarceva, a drug that targets a certain genetic mutation for which her tumor tested positive.

Without the Cancer Care Network affiliation, says Heifetz, his patients would not have access to these or most other trials.

Lisa responded well to the therapy. By December 2014, PET scans showed no evidence of cancer, making her a candidate for surgery, and in February 2015, Dr. David surgically removed the upper portion of Lisa’s left lung. She has been cancer-free since. Although Lisa continues to be on Zometa and Tarceva, with regular PET scans, she is enjoying each day and feeling grateful.

“The best part of getting back to normal is knowing that my husband, children, family and friends are relived that I’m better,” she says. “Being able to share good news after each scan is one of the best experiences I could have.”

Lisa hopes to encourage other lung cancer patients to focus on what they can do to fight the disease and to draw strength from friends and family as much as possible.

“I have tremendous hope for myself and future cancer patients,” she adds. “The hard work and dedication of researchers worldwide is resulting in many new targeted treatment options. This gives us hope that one day cancer may be cured.”

Learn more. . .