CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) – Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer but the important thing is that more than ever, there is treatment for women and men living with stage four breast cancer.
Chemotherapy and double mastectomy – that’s what Krista Nordmark had to undergo after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Four years later, the cancer was found in her lungs.
“I remember just thinking like right away, like I’m going to die,” Krista shares.
She fought back against metastatic breast cancer participating in a clinical trial at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“It was really the only chance I had.”
The focus was on a new drug.
Krista says so far, “It has not moved. I’ve had two tumors all along, they’ve shrunk about 50 percent since I’ve started the trial.”
Millions of dollars now pouring into much needed research.
Among the recipients, Dr. Lajos Pusztai at Yale Cancer Center.
He says, “The focus of our laboratory is to identify drug combinations or new drugs in the laboratory that could be moved into the clinic.”
Currently, Dr. Pusztai and his team are looking into the effectiveness of six existing drugs when combined with 150 experimental medications on cancer cells.
“You can see that this is a lot fewer cells than here,” pointing to an image with fewer cancer cells, greatly diminished by combining therapies in his lab.
The challenge he says is how successful will it be when given to patients in a clinical study.
“What we find actually can be translated into a clinical trial,” Dr. Pusztai says, “which would be a combination of drugs that have never been done together but we think they will work better together because they worked better in the laboratory.”
It’s work being done here and other research settings that has led to tremendous advances so that patients can live longer.
“I will never be cancer free,” says Krista.
Still, the school guidance counselor comes to work every day, runs marathons, and recently got engaged.
Krista’s doctors say the cancer will eventually outsmart her current therapy, but are confident when that happens, another new drug will be available.
It has been two years since Krista’s breast cancer has spread into her lungs.
Understanding the challenges of patients like Krista, is the focus of the “It’s About Time” campaign, along with the need for more research to come up with new treatments and a cure.
For more information about the campaign, click here.