Breast cancer survivor: Why I participated in three clinical trials

I am the only person in my family who has survived cancer. My mother died of leukemia when I was 29, my father and stepfather died of stomach and jaw cancer (respectively) when I was 31, my father-in-law died of lung cancer when I was 35, and my sister-in-law died of lung cancer when I was 44. So when I was diagnosed with stage IIA invasive ductal carcinoma — a type of breast cancer — in June 2015, telling my children was probably the worst part, because they’d never known a success story. Recognizing breast cancer symptoms I started experiencing breast cancer symptoms in the fall of 2014, though I didn’t recognize them at the time. My husband had bought me a backpack for an upcoming trip, and it kept causing me discomfort under my right arm. The bag was made of very heavy saddle leather, so I didn’t give it much thought. I just figured it needed breaking in. Then I went to New York City, and the backpack was the only bag I took with me. After using it all week, it didn’t seem unusual that I was feeling pain under that same arm. But even after we got back, the pain didn’t go away. By February 2015, I was starting to feel something else under that arm, too, but it wasn’t really a lump, just a slight thickening of the tissue. I finally went to the doctor in June. That’s when I learned I had breast cancer. Targeted therapy at MD Anderson My doctor referred me to Meghan Karuturi, M.D., at MD Anderson. She recommended chemotherapy,...