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This is Cancer: How a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Turned Laura Holmes Haddad into an Author and Patient Advocate


All of the conversations we have here at the Precision Medicine Podcast are focused on uncovering both barriers and solutions to realizing the promise of precision medicine. Having the opportunity to speak with Laura Holmes Haddad, an author, speaker, and breast cancer “thriver,” was especially meaningful, because it serves as a reminder that improving patient care—and giving every patient the best chance at beating cancer—is the ultimate goal.

This is Cancer: Laura Holmes Haddad - Unknown Artist
Listen to the full episode above to learn more and download the PDF transcript here.

On this episode, Laura shares her experience with cancer and discusses her recently published book, This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom.

Laura begins by telling listeners about the inspiration behind the book, which she wrote to give cancer patients a sense of what to expect. She realized there had been many things about the cancer experience that she did not know before being diagnosed, and that her notion of what it would be like was vague and flawed. Laura wanted to provide people with a sense of comradery and comfort in the knowledge that many others shared their experiences. After the release of her book, she was pleased to learn that caregivers and friends of cancer patients were helped by her insight and could better relate with their loved ones facing the disease.


Laura talks about her battle with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. The doctors who initially cared for Laura believed that after three rounds of chemotherapy nothing could be done to save her life; however, she continued to pursue a doctor whom she would like and feel comfortable with, and eventually found an oncologist who helped her get into the clinical trial that saved her life. This doctor had a strong grasp on current cancer research and was committed to supporting Laura. He applied to enter her in a clinical trial at City of Hope National Medical Center that would approach her tumor differently than traditional treatment. The trial was a form of precision medicine, and so it treated her in terms of her overall biology rather than merely considering her disease. 

Laura now feels quite strongly about the value of precision medicine, and she wants other cancer patients to understand both what clinical trials are like and how precision medicine can help with cancer treatment and screening.

She is a public advocate for cancer patients and for precision medicine, and she is committed to seeing cancer stories told, cancer patients advocating for themselves, and barriers to care removed. More specifically, Laura hopes to see clinicians granted more access to innovative therapies, and she advocates for insurance companies to remove roadblocks to these treatments. The science of cancer detection and treatment develops quickly, she notes, and there is much for people to learn and put to use. Her experience and insights are truly inspiring, and well worth a listen.

Listen to the full episode above. 

Download the full transcript here (pdf).


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About Our Guest

Laura Holmes Haddad is a writer and speaker from Northern California. A graduate of Smith College and the California Culinary Academy, Laura was an editor at Simon & Schuster before pursuing a freelance writing career.

Laura’s career focus shifted when she was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 37. After completing three years of treatment she remains cancer-free and is committed to healthcare policy and patient advocacy work. Laura travels throughout the U.S. speaking to a wide range of audiences about clinical drug trial access and cancer survivorship issues. Her speaking engagements include the “Cancer Moonshot” roundtable with Vice President Joe Biden, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the BRCA Foundation,, the Young Survival Coalition National Summit, and Blue Shield of California. She is a regular guest blogger on many patient-centered cancer websites and has appeared on numerous radio shows and podcasts.

In addition, Laura is the author of This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom. Laura wrote the book to give patients and caregivers tips and strategies to help them navigate the world of cancer. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children.


Twitter: @HolmesHaddad

Read her book, This is Cancer

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