Pam Crowther, triathlete and mother of two, learned in July 2015 her life would drastically change. After a self-check, she found a lump underneath her arm.
"I was like what is this? It was the size of a jellybean,” Crowther said.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"You want to scream and tell everyone you know, go get a mammogram,” Crowther said.
It’s a disease that's all too common. In 2013 over 230,000 women and 2,000 men in the United States got the same news as Crowther.
“You do not want to go through what I went through, it was a long and hard journey,” Crowther said.
Early detection from regular doctor visits and self-checks are essential.
“If you find something abnormal, talk about it with your doctor, make sure you don’t just leave it,” Dr.
Nanda Vrindavanam of Austin Cancer Center said.
He has been studying the disease for over a decade, he says researchers are making huge strides.
"The basic science has started catching up with the clinical science,” Dr. Vrindavanam said.
That means developing drugs that are more specific to certain molecules and pathways.
“And different mechanisms of action, and then trying to design drugs that will target those sites,” Dr. Vrindavanam said.
For Crowther, she's been cancer-free for six months and says she is confident in the research.
"That they find a cure so that cancer becomes like getting the flu and you take a pill, that people become more educated about cancer,” Crowther said.
Dr. Vrindavanam says years ago, some treatments affected all the cells, not just the cancerous ones. Now, researchers are able to cater more to the individual, using their health history as a guide.
He also says the medication created in recent years has helped reduce certain side effects as well.
"They have more hope of getting better responses,” Dr. Vrindavanam added.
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