Clinical trial gives Houston patient hope

Before Gail Barr was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram in 2013, a slight thickening in her right breast was her only clue that something was wrong. “I’d neglected my mammograms for about three years because I didn’t have any risk factors,” says Gail, who lives in the Houston area. “But one breast just seemed smaller than the other. It was suspicious.” Gail’s doctor didn’t know anyone at MD Anderson and thought she wouldn’t be able to get an appointment quickly, so she referred her to another oncologist. But Gail went home and requested an appointment at MD Anderson anyway. “I went to MD Anderson with my father when he had lung cancer back in 2003, and it struck me as a very patient-oriented place,” she says. “I still feel that way today. Even though it’s so huge, MD Anderson responded quickly. I got in to see a doctor within a week. And because I live just outside of Houston in Pearland, it’s only 20 minutes away.” Coming to MD Anderson for breast cancer treatment Once at MD Anderson, Mariana Chavez Mac Gregor, M.D., performed multiple tests to properly stage the cancer. Initially, Gail had been diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer, but because the cancer had spread to her bones, her diagnosis changed to stage IV de novo metastatic ER+, HER2- breast cancer. “Dr. Chavez Mac Gregor was very good about explaining things to me and keeping things in perspective,” Gail recalls. “She said, ‘Even though we can’t cure this, we can treat it. And if one treatment fails, we just move on to the next...