Jenster's Musings

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Heavy Heart and A Little Hope

As I was reading through some of my regular blogs yesterday I found out that a woman I “knew” passed away Thanksgiving morning from breast cancer. It wasn’t her first fight with the disease, but she was an incredible soldier until the very end. My prayers for comfort are with her family as they grieve the passing of their wife and mother.

We hear so much about “survivors” we sometimes tend to forget not everyone is a survivor. Detection and treatment have come so far in recent years, leading to greater chances of survival. And yet there are still too many women who die from this disease every year.

This news was shared by Gina at No Surrender. Gina is the fiercest of warriors and breast cancer needs to stand up and take notice. Not only is she currently dealing with her second bout of breast cancer, she also runs a breast cancer board and a website – both incredible resources for anybody either dealing with breast cancer personally or through someone they love.

She also posted the following article. As a survivor and a daughter of a survivor, I find this very exciting in light of the fact I have two sisters and a daughter of my own.

Trials Underway For Breast Cancer Vaccine

Kellye Lynn


The cervical cancer vaccine advanced women's medicine and researchers at Johns Hopkins are working toward the same goal with breast cancer.

Clinical trials are underway right now for a vaccine that doctors hope will one day wipe out the killer disease. They tell Healthwatch reporter Kellye Lynn, that the first phase of the trials look promising.

"We have designed a vaccine from cancer cells themselves," explains Hopkins oncologist Leisha Emens. "While we can cure some patients, all too often breast cancer relapses, and once it comes back, it is incurable. So, what we would like to do is find a different way to treat cancer."

Susan Marangi is one of nearly 50 women taking part in Baltimore based clinical trials.

She was first diagnosed with stage one breast cancer 19 years ago. She's had chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, none of which worked long term.

"It finally became extremely clear to me that I was going to die," she tells WJZ's Lynn. "Traditionally everybody would say if you can make it five years, you're home free."

Marangi was cancer free for 11 years. Now, she's terminal, with stage four breast cancer and she's giving her body up for research.

"Knowing that the current treatment was only going to be 20 or 30 percent effective, it's not in my makeup to wait for something to happen."

As part of the clinical trials, Marangi is given the vaccine to help the body defeat the cancer. Dr. Emens says it works much like the recently approved cervical cancer vaccine.

"The problem with cancer is because it comes from within you, our immune system says, 'So what. I have seen this before.' Our idea is to re-educate the immune system to recognize tumor cells more like an infection, like a cold virus, and to seek out and to destroy cancer."

The vaccine is injected under the skin and is given with low doses of chemotherapy. Side effects are minimal but the research is in the early stages and years away from hitting the market. Still, Dr. Emens says the potential is staggering.

"I believe eventually we can, prevent the disease from happening in the first place."
Susan Marangi believes if the vaccine doesn't help her, it will save somebody.

"When they first came out with the polio vaccine, somebody had to be the first person it worked on," she tells WJZ. "I don't know if I will be that person, but I am sure somebody will be that first person that this particular vaccine works on."

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


Mused by Jenster :: 9:07 AM :: 12 People musing:

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