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Experimental vaccine brings hope for breast cancer patients

Patient feels hopeful after experimental vaccine aimed to prevent triple-negative breast cancer
Patient feels hopeful after experimental vaccine aimed to prevent triple-negative breast cancer 02:39

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's growing hope for a breast cancer vaccine as research is advancing.

This experimental vaccine is aimed at preventing triple-negative breast cancer which is the most aggressive and deadly kind. The first test patient is feeling hopeful.

Patient Jennifer Davis says, "No one on mother's side or father's side had breast cancer that we know of, so it was quite a shock."

Davis was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in 2018.

"The first thing that prompted me to go to the doctor is that I found a lump in my left breast," she says.

The mother of three started with traditional treatments.

Dr. Megan Kruse of the Cleveland Clinic says, "She went through very aggressive and typical chemotherapy."

After that treatment, Davis had an opportunity to be part of Cleveland Clinics' breast cancer vaccine trial, which aims to prevent triple-negative breast cancer by prompting the immune system to attack the tumor and keep it from growing.  

"There is a window of time after a patient's diagnosis and treatment that they are eligible for this study, and thankfully Jen was still within that window and actually became our first patient who enrolled in the trial and got treated with the vaccine," says Dr. Kruse.

Davis hasn't had any serious complications and she remains cancer-free.

"The day I got the first vaccine, I was very excited," she says. "I really didn't think twice about it, and I've had people tell me, 'Well, you weren't too nervous?' and honestly I wasn't."  

While Davis may not directly benefit from the vaccine, she takes pride in knowing it could help save lives in the future. 

A doctor sits at a computer looking at mammogram screenings.
Doctors say they are diagnosing more young women with breast cancer. CBS2

She says, "Eventually one day down the road it could prevent triple-negative breast cancer altogether so not have that anymore, I'm so hopeful."

Davis was in the first phase of research.

Now, Cleveland Clinic will test it on a different group of high-risk patients. Those results are expected by the end of the year and if they're positive the testing could be expanded into the Philadelphia region. 

And, don't forget on Mother's Day, mothers, daughters, friends and family are invited to celebrate and walk in the Susan G Komen More Than Pink Walk. The goal is to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. 

The More Than Pink walk is this Sunday at Parx Casino in Bensalem. The event opens at 8:30 a.m.

The opening ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and CBS News Philadelphia's Natasha Brown is the emcee of the walk. 

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