Woman shares experience participating in triple-negative breast cancer vaccine trial

Sough treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Triple-negative breast cancer is the most aggressive and deadly form of the disease. Two years ago, researchers launched a first-of-its-kind trial to test a vaccine to potentially help prevent this type of breast cancer -- and now, the very first participant is sharing why she didn’t hesitate to take part.

“Nobody on my mother’s side or my father’s side had breast cancer that we know of, so it was quite a shock,” said Jennifer Davis, who is participating in the breast cancer vaccine trial.

Davis has been on a rollercoaster ride since being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer back in 2018.

“The first thing that prompted me to go to the doctor is that I found a lump in my left breast,” Davis said.

The mother of three sought care at the Cleveland Clinic.

“She went through very aggressive and typical chemotherapy,” said Dr. Megan Kruse, a Breast Oncology Specialist at Cleveland Clinic.

When Davis finished treatment, she was offered the chance to participate in the hospital’s 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,” Dr. Kruse said.

Fast forward to now, Davis hasn’t had any serious complications. She also remains cancer-free.

“The day I got the first vaccine, I was very excited. 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,” Davis said.

Davis takes pride in knowing the vaccine could help save lives in the future. “Eventually one day down the road it could prevent triple-negative breast cancer altogether. So, to not have that anymore, I’m so hopeful,” she said.

The first phase of the trial tested the vaccine in women already diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer and the next phase began earlier this year, testing the vaccine in women who are cancer-free, but at high risk for breast cancer.

About the Author:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.