Triple-negative breast cancer is caused by the destruction of BRCA1 gene mutation in the body cells. Because of the lack of three hormone receptors, treatment for triple-negative cancer is much less effective, as treatments can only target one or more of these receptors.
Gerri Speer began researching her cancer and found that there has been no successful treatment for triple-negative breast cancer as of yet. "My heart hit the floor," she said.
The OSUCCC – James medical team led by surgical oncologist William Farrar, accepted Gerri for a clinical trial, offering her hope and a roadmap for treatment.
Before agreeing to participate in the trial, Gerri communicated with several cancer specialists at several high-end cancer hospitals. She interviewed oncologists at these hospitals in order to verify their opinions concerning potential treatment via clinical research.
After meeting the oncologists, Gerri realized that the OSUCCC – James clinical trial was the best alternative for her.
Clinical Trial ApproachIn August of 2009, she started the Phase-2 neoadjuvant presurgical clinical trial, lead by breast cancer specialist Ewa Mrozek, MD. It included three experimental drugs, namely nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel, carboplatin, and bevacizumab.
The trial went on for 6 months, during which Gerri had to struggle to cope with the side-effects. However, she remained positive and focused on a single goal: to be cancer-free.
Following the trial, Gerri received radiation therapy for 8 weeks, and further chemotherapy for six months with bevacizumab. Then it was finally over.
Gerry is Now Cancer-FreeIn October 2010, Gerri was declared cancer-free. She was carefully monitored by her doctors for the following three years, with follow-up appointments every three months.
Gerri believes that for aggressive breast cancer treatment, patients should consider participating in clinical trials instead of sticking with endless chemotherapy treatments alone.
Today, Gerri Speer operates Geraldine Dixon Speer Triple Negative Breast Cancer Fund at The Columbus Foundation to fund clinical trials at OSUCCC – James, and she has volunteered to encourage other triple-negative breast cancer patients.
Today, she is living a cancer-free life. She realizes that one day her cancer could return, but she is at peace and helping other cancer patients.