I was initially diagnosed with stage 1 triple-negative breast cancer in 2015. That year I underwent standard treatments including surgery and chemotherapy. I ultimately had a double mastectomy. Throughout the following year, I spent a lot of time researching additional treatment or other treatment options, and talking to experts. I knew there was a strong likelihood the cancer would return. I am single mother, living in Harlem, New York City, and I needed to be prepared.
Cancer has affected my family tremendously. My maternal grandmother (44 years old), infant brother (18 months old), and uncle (48 years old), all succumbed to cancer.
In 2017 the breast cancer returned, and this time it was metastatic. I was facing a life expectancy of 18 to 24 months. I did not want to undergo chemotherapy again because of the awful side effects, and I wanted to make informed decisions based on science, not emotion or fear. I had previously considered clinical trials, so I searched for and eventually found one at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. I wasn’t eligible for this trial, but learned about another phase 1 clinical trial led by Dr. Daniel Cho.
I became the very first triple-negative breast cancer patient to sign up for the immunotherapy trial in which I participated. After eight weeks of treatment, I underwent my first CT scan which revealed a 72% reduction in tumors!
This experience has shown me the importance of patient advocacy and public speaking. I am also a childhood cancer survivor (Wilms tumor) and a major advocate for cancer research. I hope that my advocacy and public speaking will help others learn about immunotherapy.