In January, 2009, I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Every woman who has heard the words, “you have breast cancer” knows her life has been changed forever. My treatment required a double mastectomy and I chose to have “immediate” reconstruction. I was finally finished with treatment in December of the same year, and in the words of Queen Elizabeth II. I call it my “Annus Horriblus”…AKA very, very bad year!
Not only did I have breast cancer, I had two types of breast cancer in each breast. My doctors at Dana Farber informed me this was very rare. Rare or not, it was breast cancer. I had been hijacked into the breast cancer sisterhood… my journey had begun.
Since the beginning of my journey, I have tried to learn everything I could about the disease with respect to causes, treatment, and prevention. Prevention of recurrence through diet and lifestyle changes became my passion, and it was during this extensive research that I learned of the various ongoing efforts to develop a preventative breast cancer vaccine.
My personal story, diet and lifestyle research are chronicled in my book, A Teacher’s Journey What Breast Cancer Taught Me. You may also purchase my book by following the link in the previous sentence or by clicking on the box at the bottom right corner of this page.
I was a retired fifth grade teacher at Saint Philomena School in Portsmouth, RI when diagnosed, and the prayers and support of my students became an important element in my recovery. In addition to writing my book and donating the proceeds to vaccine research, I still felt I needed to do more. When I was teaching, I always encouraged my students to make a difference. Now it was my turn to “walk the walk”.
Although breast cancer treatment protocols and research have vastly improved over the past several decades, once diagnosed, I became dedicated to what was being done to insure future generations of my “sisters” would never have to endure its horrible consequences.
Thanks to so many courageous women who have gone before me, research monies have greatly improved conditions for treatment and therapy options. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that money collected through charitable contributions are predominantly dedicated to treatment. For every dollar raised, approximately $.97 is reserved for new treatment protocols whereas only $.03 is allocated for clinical trials. Grant monies are predominantly focused on helping women after diagnosis, which of course is important, but to protect our children and our future, it is imperative to explore prevention.
It was during my Internet search on the subject of breast cancer prevention, that I learned of the vaccine being developed at the Cleveland Clinic under the direction of Dr. Vincent Tuohy. Dr. Tuohy’s vaccine has been proven to be 100% effective in preventing breast cancer in mice but lacks the funding for human clinical trials. As someone who had endured 12 months of grueling treatment and surgeries, this was something I wanted to explore, and if it was true, I wanted to help. I found that it was indeed true.
Dr. Tuohy has developed a vaccine that targets a protein that is expressed in breast cancers but NOT in normal tissue. This vaccine could provide protection from the development of breast tumors in the absence of any adverse side effects resulting from damage to normal tissue.
Vaccinated lab animals show perfectly normal behavior and no detectable signs of inflammation or damage to any normal tissues, yet they are protected from breast cancer. This vaccine could be given as a protective measure to women over 40 since 95% of breast cancers occur to women in this age group. Women who test positive for the BRCA genes could also opt to receive the vaccine.
Why this makes sense…
Our childhood vaccination program protects us from more than 20 different diseases ranging from diphtheria to polio, and has virtually wiped out several diseases that once plagued the lives of children. Vaccination has proven to be a most useful way to protect us from disease and maintain health.
Despite the enormous success of childhood vaccinations, with the exception of the yearly influenza vaccine, there are no planned vaccinations after age of 13 until, at age 60, we get vaccinated against the Herpes Zoster virus that causes shingles. There are many research projects currently underway in the area of breast cancer vaccines. Dr. Tuohy’s vaccine is the only vaccine that is being developed to prevent the onset of cancer rather than others that are being developed for use as therapy after the onset of disease.
Imagine protection from this horrible disease with something as simple as a vaccination!
How Can You Help…
Dr. Tuohy’s vaccine is seeking FDA approval to begin human clinical trials. He has appeared before Congress after winning the prestigious Sones Innovation Award in 2010 validating his research. There are many misconceptions about his vaccine and the main obstacle to beginning clinical trials is the funds necessary to start. As remarkable as this discovery is, help is needed to spread the word so funding can be achieved.
Not enough attention has been given by the media to Dr. Tuohy’s discovery. We need your help. If you can, please donate to our fund at the Cleveland Clinic. All funds (100%) are used to bring the vaccine to human clinical trials. You can do so by clicking on the box at the left bottom corner of this page. Also, please help spread the word to support Dr. Tuohy. We have a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to support this potentially miraculous cure. Will you help? Please, please do. It will change our children's futures and the world.
“’How many years are we going to race…
It’s time to take the
Pledge for Prevention and the Pink Vaccine
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. We must do that which we think we cannot.”
Top Picture: Back Row Left to Right: Judy, Brenda, Anne & Pat
Front Row: Mom
Bottom Picture: Betty, Me, Maureen