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Published on January 26, 2017

kristen kilmer

Cancer Patient Explains How She "Dances With NED"

At age 34, Kristen Kilmer was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received treatment near her home in Spearfish, S.D., but three years later learned the cancer had metastasized.

“Being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer is devastating at any age,” said Kristen. “But my daughter was eight at the time, and it was absolutely heartbreaking. I was 15 when my mom passed away. Leaving my child motherless was my biggest fear.”

Kristen transferred her care to the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls. “I was amazed at the quality of the staff and the major medical centers that they’ve been associated with.”

Her physicians, Dr. Amy Krie and Dr. Brian Leyland-Jones, created a treatment that was personalized for Kristen based on her tumor sequencing DNA results.

“They explained that standard treatments don’t work for everybody, so they targeted my treatment based on the specific mutations of my cancer,” Kristen said.

At her visit in January 2016, Kristen learned she was cancer-free. The doctors and patients refer to it as “dancing with NED” (the acronym for the term “no evidence of disease”).

She and her husband waited until they were home in Spearfish to tell their daughter together.

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