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How asking the right questions helped Victoria Ferro survive a stage 4 cancer diagnosis

Updated: Jan 23, 2019

Victoria was 38 years old working as an executive in the media industry when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. The photo below shows her shortly before the date of her diagnosis. In 2013, Victoria was diagnosed with her second recurrence. This time the scans and biopsies showed she had stage 4 cancer. Three different oncologists told her she was dying, incurable and inoperable.

Not one to give up easily, Victoria challenged her oncologists at the Stanford Women's Cancer Center to find creative solutions for her situation. Victoria fully engaged in finding a way to a cure, not just palliation, which was the only option offered by two different oncologists. Previous to Stanford in the US, Victoria searched for a cure in three other countries in Asia, including her native Philippines.

Victoria fought to overcome what was by all accounts a dire situation. Finally in mid-2015, after a battery of treatments, overseen by Dr. George Sledge, Chief of Oncology of the Stanford Cancer Center, Victoria was declared, against all odds, with No Evidence of Disease (N. E. D.) Victoria by that time, had been fighting cancer for 10 years.

Please see video below of Dr. Sledge making the announcement in 2015.

Today, three years since her first N.E.D. results, Victoria's latest scans and tests show that her body continues to be without cancer, results that are truly remarkable in the face of what her own oncologist thought was a terminal situation. In the fall of 2016, Dr. Sledge told Victoria, when her scan once again came up N.E.D., "You are a wonder. I didn't think you'd make it past winter."

Victoria credits her excellent outcome partly to the assiduous way she gathers the quality information on which she applies decision science principles to make the best quality medical decisions. Part of her process is not just understanding the disease itself, but also understanding the medical and other health professions, understanding how institutions are run, even understanding how care providers receive their education. She leverages her location in Silicon Valley to learn the most current and most important medical, scientific and technological developments that may move the needle to a cure. She is careful to brainstorm a list of questions before she meets any one of her physicians. At some point she would lead the agenda of the meeting with these questions. She knows that their answers could be a clue to the basis of a better decision.

Victoria believes her understanding and application of decision science, one of the concentrations in the MBA education she received from Tulane University, helped spell the difference that led to her remarkable survivorship.

Victoria loves the concept of because she can now include the research, guidelines and questions that have been put together by expert care professionals as part of her resource arsenal for keeping herself healthy and for her advocacy to help people struggling with advanced cancer. Victoria looks forward to having by her side as she navigates her way to a bright future.

Says Victoria, "Lodestar definitely fills a big gap in the area of optimizing patient experience, for its own sake, and also for better health outcomes. It is definitely an idea whose time has come."

Victoria is currently writing a book on her journey through the cancer crucible. She recently produced an event at the Dragon Productions Theatre stage, that featured a staged reading of highlights from her play "Romance and Revolution in C: A Battle Tale" and a screening of the award-winning documentary film "Pananampalataya", which follows Victoria through two years of stage 4 cancer treatments at the Stanford Cancer Center.

Connect with her through the website You are invited to help support her literary-performance art-advocacy projects through her fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas.

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