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Gerri Speer: A Triple-negative Breast Cancer Survivor


In 2009, Gerri Speer was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, the worst was yet to come. Her surgeon examined the cancer and within a week, diagnosed it to be triple-negative breast cancer – an aggressive subtype that reoccurs swiftly. 

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. 

Surviving triple-negative breast cancer with a clinical trial

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. 

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Clinical Trial Approach

In 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-Free

In 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. 

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.