On Target: Meet Tabitha Paccione

“[Dr. Salgia] was so excited. I could hear him smiling when he told me he had great news, that we had this treatment and I could take it in pill form! I think I was as shocked as I was the day I learned I had cancer.”
— Tabitha Paccione

When Tabitha Paccione went from great health to coughing fits and severe fatigue in 2015, doctors couldn’t figure out why. For 10 months, she endured a series of misdiagnoses and treatments, with no success. 

Then, a scan turned up a two-inch tumor on Tabitha’s left lung. Worse news followed. The disease had spread to her bones, liver, lymph nodes and brain.

Tabitha, 35 years old at the time and a nonsmoker, reached out for help to City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. She connected with Ravi Salgia, M.D., Ph.D., an international leader in precision medicine for lung cancer — customizing therapy based on the genetic signatures of each patient and their disease.

Where early testing and interpretation had failed her, precision medicine came through. Salgia identified a rare mutation that triggered her cancer. There were a pair of drugs shown by research to be especially effective in targeting it. 

The second medicine was a success. Tabitha felt better within weeks. And eventually, the cancer was gone altogether.

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