CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Clinic is starting to conduct clinical tests on a breast cancer vaccine after nearly a decade of research and development on the drug.
The news gives one Lake County mother a lot of hope - not just for herself, but for her daughter too.
"To know that there's something out there so that other people don't have to go through this is a huge relief," said Kris Stefanac who has battled triple-negative breast cancer for nearly two years.
The Cleveland Clinic vaccine is targeted to prevent the occurrence of triple-negative breast cancer. It's a cancer that's very aggressive, even lethal. But the vaccine may also help people who already have the particular form of the disease.
"We believe that our vaccine could be effective in preventing reoccurrence of the disease," said Dr. Vincent Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic.
"We just feel blessed that OK, the Lord gave me another day to be with my family," added Stefanac, who is 35 years old and married with two children.
Stefanac's cancer has taken both of her breasts and spread to her skin, liver and lungs. She has no history of breast cancer in her family. Her diagnosis increases her 3-year-old daughter's chances of cancer by 30 percent.
"Every night she prays, she hopes that mommy's cancer goes away," Stefanac said.
Stefanac is waiting to hear whether she is qualified to be a part of a breast cancer vaccine trial at University Hospitals. She expects an answer in the next few months.
"Every second is special," said Stefanac's husband, Mark. "Before it was just time, now it's a special moment."
In the meantime, Stefanac is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
"My kids shouldn't grow up without a mommy," she added.
Dr. Tuohy said clinical trials will be conducted on the clinic's breast cancer vaccine over the next 10 years.