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Molly was 39 weeks pregnant, with her second child, when she found a lump in her breast.
“It’s probably just a blocked milk duct,” her GP told her. “Don’t worry about it.”
Baby Alice was born a few weeks later – a little sister for 18-month-old Olivia. But even when baby Alice was a few weeks old, the lump was still there.
At only 33 years of age, Molly was diagnosed with breast cancer of the most aggressive kind – triple negative breast cancer.
Breast cancer tends to be more aggressive for young women. Tragically, it means a greater chance that women like Molly will lose their lives.
“I couldn’t sleep. Not just because I had a newborn, but because I thought I might die… I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying. It was like time froze and a black hole opened up and I was falling into it.”
But then came a glimmer of hope.
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of our supporters, Molly was able to participate in our Neo-N trial.
The Neo-N breast cancer clinical trial, led by Breast Cancer Trials researcher Professor Sherene Loi, is working to drastically change the way triple negative breast cancer is treated to improve outcomes for women like Molly.
“In this clinical trial, we are giving women with triple negative breast cancer an immuonotherapy treatment together with chemotherapy before they have surgery to trigger their own immune system to help attack the tumour. If this treatment causes their breast cancer tumour to shrink or it disappears altogether by the time of surgery, and we can see lots of active immune cells on or around the tumour, we believe those patients will have nearly 100% chance of being cured.” explains Professor Loi.
Molly was in the chemo ward for nine hours on treatment days, every single week, for three and a half months straight.
Extensive chemotherapy was not only gruelling with many prolonged side effects, like hair loss, fatigue and nausea, it was also utterly isolating for Molly. The long periods away from her family meant missing out on the precious moments she should have been enjoying with her baby Alice, and toddler Olivia.
As she neared the finish line of trial treatment, Molly was ready to undergo surgery to remove the tumour.
After surgery, she got the news she was so desperately hoping for. The treatment had worked, it had eliminated all visible signs of her breast cancer!
The Neo-N trial is just one example of how through clinical research you can help to save lives.
While most people experiencing breast cancer will not have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial—the research and treatment outcomes of trials like Neo-N will benefit the 200,000 women diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer each year across the globe.
While Molly’s outcome was positive, she still lives each day with the constant fear that her breast cancer may return.
“Now that I’ve had such a good outcome with treatment, I’m really going to soak up every Christmas. I’m feeling extra grateful for each one and I hope to see many more.”
But every day, another 57 Australian women like Molly are being diagnosed with breast cancer. While breast cancer treatments keep improving thanks to clinical trials research, the rate and number of young women being diagnosed has continued to increase for the past 10 years.