Mom battles breast and brain cancer
ATLANTA - At 54, Leisha Flemming is juggling a lot: working, being a wife and mother, and a metastatic cancer patient.
"You just kind of go into fight mode, and you do whatever you have to do," says Flemming.
Flemming's started fighting in 2015 when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
"Triple negative is really aggressive cancer. And I was diagnosed in a little bit of a later stage," says Flemming
She pushed through chemotherapy, a mastectomy then radiation.
But by August of 2016, the cancer had spread, or metastasized into her lungs and bones. Which meant more treatment.
"Basically, you're told to live your life, do whatever you have to to keep living," says Flemming.
So, Flemming got a job working in the front office at Piedmont Physicians Group. But, in one day in March, she came back from lunch feeling off.
"And then I apparently sat down in my chair and had a seizure," recalls Flemming.
"And the next thing I woke up in the ambulance,"
Dr. Erin Dunbar, a neuro-oncologist with Piedmont Brain Tumor Center was part of the team that broke the news to Flemming her cancer had spread to her brain. But they also had mapped out a way to treat her tumors.
"And what was a horrible day in many ways wound up being from a worry to a solid plan. So she left that hospital that day, after having recovered from the surgery, having done all of her visits and actually having a cohesive plan," says Dr. Erin Dunbar.
Flemming underwent Gamma Knife surgery. It's a highly target type of radiation neurosurgical oncologist Dr. Howard Chandler says is extremely effective in treating small tumors.
"So each tumor has a 95 percent chance of being cured, that particular tumor. One of the disadvantages is that it doesn't treat what you can't see. And when people come in with multiple tumors, there are often little tumors nearby that you cannot see," explains Dr. Howard Chandler.
Flemming has Gamma knife procedure twice. If more tumors pop up, she'll do it again.
"we're looking for lack of progression. So that's what they're trying to help me with, is to stop it from marching forward in my body, " says Flemming.
In the meantime, she's pushing on -- with living.
"You can still live your life, and it's tiring and it's hard, but it's worth it."