Lois Buckman values every second of her time. She doesn’t spend any of it avoiding hard truths.
“My name is Lois Buckman, and I have stage 4 colon cancer,” she says. “I’ve been living with this for over two years. The reason I’m still here is science, clinical trials and a dream team of doctors.”
In April 2020, Lois felt exhausted. For years she flew to Detroit from Los Angeles every couple of weeks to care for her ailing mother. After her mother died, Lois reflected on her busy life. She’d been an executive at a major telecommunications company. She’s a mother of three grown daughters. Putting everyone else first was a habit.
“Finally, my girlfriends told me, ‘You look like a dish rag,'” she says. “‘You’ve been dragging yourself back and forth across the sky, and you really need to check on yourself.’ And they were right, so I went to see my doctor.”
Lois noticed her fatigue and some constipation—symptoms she attributed to flying too frequently, the stress of being a caregiver and grief over the loss of her mother. As soon as some test results came back, her doctor called her and told her to go to Cedars-Sinai‘s Emergency Department immediately.
In an emergency surgery, doctors discovered her colon had been completely blocked by tumors.
“Processing that I had cancer was the hardest reality,” she says. “I realized how incredibly unprepared I was to hear such startling news—and that this disease could result in my demise.”
She learned from Dr. Zuri Murrell that her chance of surviving the emergency surgery had been only about 25%. She calls him Superman, and refers to her doctors—including Dr. Jun Gong, Dr. Alexandra Gangi, Dr. Daryl Houston and the late Dr. Donald Henderson—as her dream team. They devised a treatment plan paired with bimonthly CT scans to track how the cancer was progressing.
For two months, her condition steadily improved, but then the cancer rebounded. That’s when she was offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial that would combine chemotherapy with targeted therapy.