Just a couple of hours after stormy clouds past through the area on Tuesday, April 3, the 2018 Celebrating Women supporters were gathering at Amy and Corey Prestidge’s home. Alas, Amy wasn’t on hand when the doors opened. She was doing carpool duty.
Still the ladies like Claire Emanuelson, Leslie Diers, Margo Goodwin, Emilynn Wilson, Beth Thoele, Lisa Longino, Pam Busbee, Pat Harloe, Carol McEvoy, Cara French, Lisa Cooley, Bela Cooley, Jo Anne McCullough, Mary Ann Cree, Elizabeth Gambrell and Tiffany Divis kept coming and coming. Immediately the eye-catching entry hall’s paint were a conversation piece with its lacquered purple. One gal teased another admirer, “Imagine how many bottles of nail polish it took!”
While the dining room table was laid out with lots of yummies, the group seemed to gravitate in the family room, where 2018 Celebrating Women Co-Chairs Pat McEvoy and Michal Powell were to announce plans for the Baylor Health Care System Foundation fundraiser for breast cancer research and treatment.
It was just as well, since the crowd grew to capacity with standing room had the ladies lining the walls and filling the couches and chairs. Before the announcements got underway, the talk of the room was Pam Busbee reporting on the Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon” earlier in the day; Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson fresh from his trip to Chile and Patagonia from a fly fishing trip; and the whereabout of Celebrating Women Underwriting Chair Shelle Sills. She had a great excuse. Shelle was in Charlottesville visiting her new granddaughter Blair and looking forward to another arrival in September.
The presentation was slightly delayed for the arrival of Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, whose work in breast cancer research has resulted in her being “the holder of the Celebrating Women Chair in Breast Cancer Research.”
According to Robin, her late arrival was understandable since she was probably taking care of a patient and that was the priority. But no sooner had Robin said that then the itty-bitty giant within the world of breast cancer research arrived.
Once the program began, things moved along quickly with the date for the luncheon slated for Friday, October 12, with Christi Urschel and her mother, Linda Carter as honorary co-chairs.
The recipient for the Lindalyn B. Adams Award would be beautiful blonde Karla McKinley, who had shown grace and courage in going through her breast cancer journey. While she blended in with the women standing on the outskirts of the room, she seemed a little shy when the announcement was made. Robin teased that Karla had postponed her trip with her husband, Mark, to Augusta for the Masters.
Then Joyce stepped up to the microphone telling how vital the Foundation’s support of her research had been and the various clinical trials that she had undertaken and those that were on her wish list.
While she admitted that thanks to past research and development, tools were now available to save the lives of countless people. However, 25% of women with the most aggressive form of the disease —triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) — were facing a very tough battle.
She recalled “Donna,” whose battle with TNBC had been part of the Celebrating Women Luncheon a few years ago. “Despite five years of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, genomic sequencing and personalized treatment, she had six re-occurrences of triple negative breast cancer.” It was during one of her last recurrences that she enrolled “in a clinical trial for a new drug, BEZ 235. Although she initially responded to the medication, her breast cancer returned and she discontinued treatment in the trial.”
With time running out, she got together with Joyce, who gave a double dose of the chemotherapy that had been used before.
Looking like a kid, Joyce reported that not only did Donna had a “durable complete response,” but she’s been cancer free for more than five years.
But like Sherlock Holmes, Joyce was faced with the question — “What changed?”
Joyce suggested that “although the drug Donna had taken in her last clinic trial did not cure her cancer, something about it sensitized the cancer cells and made the chemotherapy more effective.”
On a down note, Joyce reported that BEZ-235 had been discontinued. But this development wasn’t going to stop her. She found FDA-approved Bortezomib that was already being used for the treatment of multiple myeloma, to see if it could provide the same results.
However, the long and short of it was simply that research and trials take
funding which is limited. Time and time again, Joyce stressed that thanks to the Foundation, funding had been made possible.
Almost immediately after she finished her remarks, Joyce was surrounded like a rock star by her patients. One of those women was Gail Smith, the mother of Michal’s daughter-in-law Felicia Powell. When Gail was faced with a very aggressive form of cancer in both breast, Joyce helped her battle through the treatments. When it was revealed that she was cancer free, the two women celebrated their teamwork in battling breast cancer with laughter and tears.
As for the keynote speaker for the event, stay tuned. That news will be coming.