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Breast Cancer Treatment Clinical Trial

Updated: Monday, October 21 2013, 07:51 PM EDT

More research and advancements are happening at community hospitals in the fight against cancer. As News 13's Jay Siltzer shows us, one local women's participation through Pardee Hospital could one day impact her own community.


North Henderson High School math teacher Rachel Willingham is back at work after a second bout with breast cancer. She continues fighting for her life while participating in a clinical trial that combines conventional treatment herceptin with a new drug, Tykerb.


"What if this is the breakthrough that's needed? If my ability and desire to help others can help someone else, then why not," said Willingham.


"Longterm, they are going to decide whether these two drugs together will help for progression-free survival," said Leann Noakes, RN.


No matter her outcome, the 41-year-old Willingham walks tall with a smile.


"Cancer doesn't define who I am. That's just a small part of my life. That's a bump in the road," said Willingham.


That bump in the road started as a lump in the breast four years ago that led to a cancer diagnosis and a resolve to fight like a knight. One day after her first chemo treatment in 2009, Rachel, somehow, had the energy to come here to the Knights' football game. What she discovered was immeasurable support.


"When they got ready to start the game, all the football players took off their helmets and they had all shaved their heads," said Willingham.


Now, she returns that love by taking part in a trial that may one day set the standard of care for those players' mothers, sisters, wives and daughters affected by breast cancer.


Patients at Pardee Hospital are involved in more than 50 different national and international clinical trials and studies.


Breast Cancer Treatment Clinical Trial


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