CLEVELAND (WJW) – Lesley Kiraly Hosta was just 43 when she found a lump through a self-exam. As a single mom, she knew she had to act quickly, and immediately jumped into action.
A biopsy revealed her biggest fear: she had cancer.
“You think you’re prepared to hear the news, but I wasn’t,” said Hosta. “I was by myself at work, got the news and was just devastated.”
Hosta was diagnosed with stage 2B HER2-POSITIVE breast cancer. HER2 tends to grow and spread faster than breast cancers that are HER2-NEGATIVE.
“What really went through my mind is I was responsible for taking care of everyone in my family for so long, my sons, my parents,” said Hosta. “If I’m not here, who’s going to do that?”
The next few months were a whirlwind as Hosta began aggressive treatment. She had a lumpectomy and a total lymph node dissection. Doctors removed 29 lymph nodes. Three came back positive for cancer.
Hosta’s doctors recommended six sessions of chemotherapy, but she was only able to complete five. “My body just couldn’t tolerate a sixth one,” she said.
That’s when her doctors at MetroHealth Medical Center recommended a newer drug called Herceptin. A year-long targeted therapy for her specific cancer, the drug is meant to stop the multiplication of proteins.
“It basically saved my life,” she said. “Before Herceptin, my diagnosis would have been a death sentence.”
Her oncologist, Dr. Tonjeh Bah of Metro, agrees Herceptin really was a game changer for HER2-positive patients. “In the past, we really didn’t have much [in way of treatments]. We are now using a second line and third line in women who have HER2 positivity and improved survival.”
Hosta’s surgical oncologist, Dr. Natalie Joseph agrees it’s advances in research that bring new hope every day.
“I’ve been in practice for over 20 years and just particularly in the last five to eight years, the research has evolved,” Joseph said. “It has been life-changing for patients.”
As for Hosta, she’s now five years cancer-free and a grandma to 1-year-old Grayson.
“I’m so thankful I’m here. And that’s one of the things with Herceptin. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here to even know he existed,” Hosta said, fighting back tears. “He’s just my everything.”
This year’s Fox 8 Fox Trot benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, whose mission is to come up with new treatments and advancements like Herceptin. Sign up to participate in the one-mile walk or 5K race here.