Breast cancer patient symbol of hope for others

June 28, 2013 2:40:02 AM PDT
A survey of women with advanced breast cancer finds that they often struggle to continue working during cancer treatments. And when illness forces women to cut back work hours, they often lose income. But a young mother and scientist is becoming a symbol of hope, by managing to work in spite of her advanced breast cancer.

Sandra Bishnoi is a chemistry professor. She has two young children, three-year-old Anya and six-year-old Raj. And at 37, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer.

"Not like what you think of breast cancer," Bishnoi said.

They believe her early symptoms were masked by her pregnancy, but when they found it, the cancer had already spread to her bones.

"I had a four-year-old at the time, I had a one-year-old, I was working full time as a professor and my husband was traveling a lot for work. His job was actually here in Houston, and I was in Chicago trying to get tenure. It was a lot," Bishnoi said.

For a past year, she's had no evidence of the disease. But Bishnoi knows it's not gone.

"I'm very blessed that right now what I'm taking works. But I will be a patient for the rest of my life," Bishnoi said.

She didn't get the tenure in Chicago she was hoping for.

"I had enough fight in me to fight for my life or fight for tenure. I couldn't fight for both. And I decided fighting for my life had a much longer term benefit," Bishnoi said.

So Bishnoi rebalanced her life. She moved to Houston where her husband works, switched her treatment to MD Anderson, and is teaching chemistry part time at Rice University.

And Bishnoi says she's happy and hopes her story encourages others.

"Still living life and I continue to live that way as long as my treatment works," Bishnoi said.

A new website is focused on helping women who are living with late stage breast cancer.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13