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One Woman's Battle to Beat Breast Cancer

One Woman's Battle to Beat Breast Cancer

By Carol Wang. CREATED Sep 22, 2011

La Vista, NE--Thanks to medical breakthroughs, people who get breast cancer now have more than a 90% chance of surviving the disease.  But that doesn't mean the work is over.  In fact, more women are needed to help uncover the cure.

Women, like Stacy Sells.  At the age of 36, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.  Because of the aggressive and fast-spreading nature of her disease, doctors asked her to participate in a National Cancer Institute study.  The study is testing to see if Avastin, a drug that stops the blood flow to tumors, can help prevent cancer from returning if used with chemotherapy treatment. 

"I didn't even really have to think twice about it.  I have daughters.  I have family and friends and if this is a drug that can benefit me, help my standard of care of treatment and be an approved drug that helps others then why wouldn't I?"  Sells said yes.

Sells is the exception to the rule.  Nationally, the number of cancer patients who agree to clinical trials hovers around 3%.  At Methodist Hospital, doctors are seeing a nine-percent participation rate, but it's still low. 

"Really the way we've made good progress in cancer has been through the clinical trial program," explained Dr. Robert Langdon, an oncologist at Methodist Hospital.  He points out that researchers are discovering that treating cancer is really treating many different diseases and a person's genetics may hold the key to success.  But that also means there needs to many more trials to see how certain drugs react to certain genes.  That's where patient involvement is so crucial.  "It can make a difference in survival."

"It can't hurt to add a study drug for the next generation of people.  If that's what's going to help find a cure, then why wouldn't you?" Sells asked. 

The study Sells was part of just finished and so results won't be known for a few years. Right now, she's cancer-free and in remission, feeling optimistic, grateful and so proud of how she and her family coped during this crisis.

Sells smiles as she explained, "For me that bad card turned into something wonderful, something I can help other people with, something I can share: my story, my faith."

Friends and family helped her celebrate the first year after diagnosis with decorations and a big sign, proclaiming 'survivor' on the front of her house.  She can't help but agree and laugh.  "I did survive it.  I did survive this last roller coast crazy of a year."