Triple-negative breast cancer survivor: Why I’m glad I stayed on an immunotherapy clinical trial

Until I was diagnosed with stage I triple-negative breast cancer in December 2016, I didn’t know much about immunotherapy. But as an executive assistant in MD Anderson’s Radiation Oncology department for more than 25 years, I’d heard the term used before by our doctors. I never thought that one day it would save my own life. When I started my treatment, I joined a clinical trial being conducted by MD Anderson’s Breast Cancer Moon Shot™. The trial was unique because I was able to start with traditional chemotherapy and move on to other treatments only if that didn’t work. I learned many patients with triple-negative breast cancer respond well to chemotherapy, but this trial would provide me with personalized options if my tumor didn’t. Unfortunately, my tumor progressed after two cycles of chemo. After analyzing my tumor, my doctors thought I would be a good candidate for an immunotherapy clinical trial, also part of the Moon Shot, that was only available here in Houston. What made me try an immunotherapy clinical trial I was a little nervous when Dr. Nuhad Ibrahim first mentioned the clinical trial. To me, that meant I may or may not receive the medicine being tested, and I couldn’t be sure if it would work, even if I did receive it. But Dr. Ibrahim told me that this combination of drugs had already shown some very positive results in treating stage IV ovarian cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer is notoriously hard to treat. After we talked about it, I felt comfortable and confident, so I decided to do it. I started receiving an immunotherapy drug...