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Cleveland Clinic patient who received experimental breast cancer vaccine shares her story

Cleveland Clinic and Anixa Biosciences will present findings at American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) annual meeting in Orlando next week.

CLEVELAND — At age 41, Jennifer Davis learned she had a very dangerous type of breast cancer. Triple negative — the kind that few treatments work against.

Davis, who is a married mother of three and a nurse, went through chemo, a double mastectomy and radiation, but she knew she was still at risk.

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"Every time I woke up with a headache, every time I slept on my arm wrong, I automatically thought, 'it came back, this is it,'" she said.

In the fall of 2021, she learned she qualified for an experimental vaccine targeting her type of breast cancer.

"Triple negative has a high recurrence rate. The prognosis is not the greatest if it does recur, so I desperately wanted something, to be part of something, that kind of would put my mind at ease," she said.

Davis would be among the first humans to try the vaccine. She asked if any of the lab animals reacted badly to the shot. The answer was the same as her second question.

"I asked how many had a recurrence and the answer was zero. I don't think you really ever see that in research ever, so I didn't hesitate to take it," she said.

Jennifer is one of thirteen patients who've received the vaccine. Next week she's heading to Orlando to hear preliminary findings of how the research is going. It matters, not only for her, but for her kids.

"All three kids will start getting tested ten years prior to my onset, so at the age of 31 they will all be screened and closely followed," she said.

Three shots, two weeks apart, eighteen months ago and her cancer is still in remission. She hopes it's the same for others.

"The possibility that 12, 15, 20 percent of triple negative will just not be anymore would just be amazing," she said.

Anixa Biosciences and Cleveland Clinic will prevent their findings on Tuesday. The current trial is still recruiting, including for patients who underwent prophylactic mastectomy because of their risk for triple negative breast cancer. While it accounts for just 15% of breast cancer cases, the risk of death is much higher. 

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