SpecialK's Story: Trying to Find the Positive by Helping Others With Cancer

SpecialK's Story: Trying to Find the Positive by Helping Others With Cancer

SpecialK had a stellar experience in two clinical trials she joined after she was diagnosed and found to be HER2+ and node positive.

SpecialK is a member of the Breastcancer.org Community.

I have spent most of my adult life as a military spouse, have been stationed around the world with my husband as he spent 28 years as an officer in the Air Force. During that time we raised two children, our son who is a college senior, and our daughter who graduated from USF in 2013. Our last active duty assignment brought us to Tampa and MacDill AFB. At retirement from active duty my husband accepted a job with Special Operations Command here, so we have stayed. We love our neighborhood and community, and I have been very fortunate to receive excellent quality care for breast cancer because of the NCI and university resources so close by.

I was diagnosed in the fall of 2010, found to be HER2+ and node positive. I had 6 rounds of Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin, continued Herceptin for the year. I have had some reconstruction issues which have resulted in numerous surgeries - which continue, but I am hopeful that this will be resolved by the end of 2016.

I participate in a HER2+ recurrence prevention vaccine trial. This is the AE37/GP2 Phase II trial. This trial was a topic of discussion on the Triple Positive thread, I looked into the trial itself, and went through the enrollment screening and was accepted. There was another member on the thread and she enrolled at another location and was 6 weeks ahead of me - we compared notes a number of times and kept our thread-mates up to date on our progress and experience since the trial continued enrolling until fairly recently. I enrolled in the summer of 2012 right after finishing Herceptin, the enrollment criteria specified starting the trial within 6 months from that point.

My experience has been stellar, the personnel involved with the trial have made it very easy - I traveled from Tampa to Washington, D.C. to participate - there was no local location but I lived in that area for 10 years and had lots of friends to stay with, as well as my son who is in college there.

I also participated in a stress reduction trial right after I finished chemo, but was still receiving Herceptin. It was the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction trial with Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida School of Nursing. This was a 6 week trial to see if meditation and yoga could reduce the stress hormone Cortisol - quantified by before, during and after blood and saliva samples. Also a stellar experience, and the relaxation techniques have been very useful both daily, and in more acutely stressful situations such as MRI's and surgery post-trial.

I have found a great deal of satisfaction by remaining an active poster on BCO, and have guided several local friends through cancer diagnoses, breast cancer and other type. My father had stage IV lung cancer, and my brother, my only sibling, had stage IV bile duct cancer. I have taken my experience with their diseases, and my own, and tried to find the positive by helping others.

-- SpecialK, AE37/GP2 trial; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction trial

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of Breastcancer.org nor are they intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.