A Breast Cancer Diagnosis at Age 36 Inspired this Survivor to Support Others, Advance Research
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Diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer? You Have Options
Regina Jones has twice heard the life-changing words, “It’s cancer.” The first time was in 2005 when her mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, a disease which claimed her life, and the second time was when Regina was planning her own wedding in 2011.
“The way I learned I had breast cancer was after attending an event led by a survivor who was telling us how important mammograms were,” said Jones, now a married mom of six-year-old twins. “She said, ‘None of you are listening.’ I told her that I was listening, and that I was going to schedule a mammogram even though I was only 36 years old.”
After the initial shock of her breast cancer diagnosis had subsided, Regina and her fiancé — now her husband — set out to decide how best to treat it. They quickly learned the importance of researching and evaluating all of their options: they got a second opinion, found the right doctor, asked a lot of questions and considered participating in a clinical trial.
When Current Treatments Aren’t Right for You – Clinical Trials Offer Choices
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate the efficacy, safety and side effects of investigational medicines or existing ones to determine if they are safe and effective in treating additional medical conditions. And while they aren’t without risk, clinical trials may offer access to investigational therapies that are not yet on the market. Regina and her husband learned about cancer clinical trials while she was receiving treatment at UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, where the doctors, residents, interns, and nurses talked about research on a regular basis. Without clinical trials, new treatments cannot get approved by the FDA for patient use.
“If more people, and people of color, knew of the importance of clinical research, we could advance new therapies more quickly,” Jones said. “There’s a reason why doctors evaluate drugs in certain age groups, ethnicities and in women versus men; because doctors need to understand in which groups the drug works or works best. There may be some side effects from new drugs, but evaluating them in clinical trials helps us, as patients, find new treatments that could save and improve our lives.”
Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Near You
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with triple negative breast-cancer, you may be a good fit for one of three clinical trials evaluating an investigational drug for its ability to extend survival and/or its ability to help protect bone marrow against the damaging side effects of chemotherapy. The drug is currently approved for a different oncology indication and is now being evaluated in patients with triple negative breast-cancer. There are more options out there than you might think. A clinical trial — if you’re eligible to participate — might just be one of them.