I was listening to a segment about breast cancer vaccines on NPR’s Science Friday on the way home from my massage today (ah yes, we’ll talk about that next week!)
Lead researcher, immunologist Vincent Tuohy from Cleveland Clinic, excitedly described his study, in which they injected a vaccine with the antigen alpha-lactalbumin into mice who were genetically predisposed to breast cancer. Half of the mice were injected with a placebo; the others with the real thing. The result: all of the mice with the placebo developed cancer and all of the mice with the vaccine never developed cancer. He said the vaccine could have monumental implications for preventing breast cancer and keeping existing tumors from growing.
Then they interviewed Dr. “Muckety Muck,” an oncologist in NYC. His response was to tell listeners not to get too excited about this. We don’t know how humans will respond; and even if it does work, it will probably take 10 years for it to make it available to us homo sapiens. Yada, yada, yada. Well, that’s interesting, because according to an article I came upon on Twitter, there is a possibility it will be tested on humans by next year!
Then he reported some of the findings from the American Association of Clinical Oncologists meeting this week that were much more low-key. For example, there is a treatment that would eliminate the need for a sentinel node biopsy to see if cancer is in the lymph nodes and a new chemo drug that may prolong disease-free survival. Good things, but in no way giving hope for a cure.
What is it about some doctors? They always seem to want to squash hope for people. My doctors are nothing like that, thank God. I related in a previous post how excited my oncologist was upon hearing about a vaccine for prostate cancer. And the doctor I consult with up in Indianapolis says he will be glad if his job is obsolete if it means there is a cure for cancer.
So what if this – or any other – development gets our hopes up? Would it be so bad if someone with advanced cancer happens to hang on for several more years waiting for an upcoming cure? Would it be so awful for mothers like me to have hope their daughters might never have to experience breast cancer?
I believe strongly hope is the best medicine. That’s why I wrote From Incurable to Incredible, which shows there is hope even if a doctor tells you you’re going to die.
Speaking of the book, I learned yesterday that it is now on the press! It should be ready to purchase online in a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy compiling my mailing list for the launch. Please contact me with your email or subscribe to this site, and I’ll make sure to send you a link to purchase it as soon as it’s available.
Hope you have a great weekend!
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