Avastin patient with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC)
Learn more about Juanita and her experiences with Avastin.
Juanita is a metastatic colorectal cancer patient who shares her
experiences taking Avastin (or bevacizumab). Throughout her story,
you’ll see important safety information about Avastin. Experiences
with Avastin may differ between individuals, so it’s important to be
informed about possible side effects.
These patient stories are representative of the patient at the time of recording. The current status of the patient is not represented here.
Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (mCRC)
Avastin is approved to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) for:
- First- or second-line treatment in combination with intravenous 5-fluorouracil–based chemotherapy
- Second-line treatment when used with fluoropyrimidine-based (combined with irinotecan or oxaliplatin) chemotherapy after cancer progresses following a first-line treatment that includes Avastin
Avastin is not approved for use after the primary treatment of colon cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.
Fighting cancer, with her family by her side.
After working as a caregiver in Detroit for almost 3 decades, Juanita found herself in an unusual situation. Soon, it would be her sister and closest friends taking care of her when Juanita was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer. Juanita’s doctor prescribed Avastin along with IV 5-FU–based chemotherapy to treat the disease.
At first, Juanita didn’t know how to cope. But with the positive results from treatment, together with the support of her sister Georgia and a take-charge attitude, Juanita was able to raise her spirits. And like a true caregiver herself, Juanita continues to raise the spirits of those around her.
Possible serious side effects
Everyone reacts differently to Avastin therapy. So, it's important to know what the side effects are. Although some people may have a life-threatening side effect, most do not. Your doctor will stop treatment if any serious side effects occur. Be sure to contact your health care team if there are any signs of these side effects.
Most serious side effects (not common, but sometimes fatal):
- GI perforation. A hole that develops in your stomach or intestine. Symptoms include pain in your abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or fever
- Wounds that don't heal. A cut made during surgery can be slow to heal or may not fully heal. Avastin should not be used for at least 28 days before or after surgery and until surgical wounds are fully healed
- Serious bleeding. This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; nosebleeds; and vaginal bleeding. If you recently coughed up blood or had serious bleeding, be sure to tell your doctor
How Avastin combination therapy helped Juanita
“I made my decision. And I’m not giving up.”
Juanita’s oncologist introduced her to Avastin, which he explained works differently than chemotherapy: it may help to starve tumors and prevent them from growing.
After discussing her options with her doctor, Juanita began treatment. She started taking Avastin every 2 weeks in addition to IV 5-FU-based chemotherapy. Juanita’s results were positive. Her tumors shrank.
The right team makes all the difference
“My doctor showed me the difference before Avastin and after—and my tumors really shrank.”
Juanita comes from a tight-knit family that has been by her side since day one. In fact, her sister serves as her primary caregiver, and Juanita’s daughter coordinates the efforts of Juanita’s friends—whether it’s driving her to her infusion, taking her out for dinner, or even heading to the casino.
But even with her “golden girls”—Juanita’s nickname for her support team—she still believes in taking an active role in her care. She asks her doctors plenty of questions, and won’t leave until she understands the plan of action. Juanita also recommends doing the research to find doctors you’ll be comfortable with.
Juanita’s tips for staying positive
“I love my oncology team. It makes it much easier to deal with everything knowing they’re with me.”
“Don’t let cancer stop you. Keep trying to do some of the things that you’ve always done and enjoyed.”
Juanita will be the first to admit that living with cancer is life-changing. But she’ll also be the first to remind you not to give cancer too much power.
Here are some of Juanita’s tips for staying positive. We hope you find them helpful too.
Read a good book
Some uplifting poetry, daily devotions, or a good story can help get you a little more upbeat.
Put on a kettle of tea
Light some candles with incense or aromatherapy. Take a hot bath and relax.
Let your feelings out
We all have good days and bad days. If you realize you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, say you’re sorry. They’ll understand.
Talk things over in a support group
Saying what’s on your mind can make a big difference.
Put on some music
Kick off your shoes. And start dancing.
Juanita knows the importance of sticking with her treatment
Because Juanita’s side effects were manageable and her results were encouraging, she was able to continue taking Avastin. And that’s been important, because Juanita is committed to doing everything she can to continue her fight. Juanita has a great working relationship with the team of doctors and nurses who have been by her side throughout her treatment. Juanita knows that patients should keep taking Avastin, even if they:
- Want a break from treatment
- See that the tumor has responded to treatment
- Change chemotherapy treatment because of side effects
“I was happy with my progress from taking Avastin, and my oncologist was as well.”
Learning more about Avastin
If you found this story inspiring, please read the other patient stories featured on this site.