In the summer of 2007, a few of my colleagues from RPI and I participated in the Susan G. Koman 3-Day, a 60-mile walk to end breast cancer. I had no personal connection to breast cancer, but I was well aware of the statistic – 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. I trained for months, and personally raised over $2500 for breast cancer research and support programs. It was the most rewarding challenge of my life up to that point.
Fast forward to December 2017, when I would become the “1 in 8,” facing a whole new challenge.
Although my cancer is HER2+, one of the most aggressive types, my prognosis is excellent, thanks in large part to the advances made in the field of breast cancer research and treatment. In 1998, the FDA approved the use of Herceptin, a targeted therapy aimed at HER2 cancer cells, and in the years since, the 10-year survival rate for women with HER2+ breast cancer has improved from 75.2% with chemotherapy alone, to 84% with the addition of Herceptin to their chemotherapy regimen. For many women, Herceptin has been a miracle drug, bringing light and hope back into their lives. FDA approval in 2012 of another targeted therapy, Perjeta, adds additional promise.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Living Proof,” starring Harry Connick, Jr., you have an idea of the work involved in developing Herceptin, getting it through clinical trials and into the marketplace. This was all made possible by the millions of people who have walked the 3-Day, ran the Race for the Cure, and participated in local Making Strides events around the country, long before I did. As a woman battling breast cancer, and receiving Herceptin and Perjeta treatments every 3 weeks, I owe all of them a huge debt of gratitude!
But, there is so much more work to be done, more research needed, and more targeted therapies to be developed. For this year’s Making Strides event on Sunday, October 21st, my Maria College colleagues are joining the fight, and we invite you to join our walk team, #KimmyStrong, or consider making a donation to our team. Together we can help reach the ultimate goal of a world without breast cancer! THANK YOU!
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Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Administration