AT THE SEATTLE CANCER CARE ALLIANCE
“I was the one patient they should never have missed,” says Sue Morrow Flanagan. The New York-based journalist’s mother and grandmother had died of breast cancer, and, convinced that she had the disease, Flanagan visited several doctors. Unfortunately, they didn’t find anything. Some even told her she was neurotic. By the time she was correctly diagnosed in 2002, the cancer had metastasized.
Flanagan began calling researchers and combing through summaries of clinical trials. Eventually, she was referred to UW Medicine oncologists Nora Disis, Fel.’93, and Lupe G. Salazar, Fel. ’02, Fel. ’03.
She wasn’t eligible for the breast cancer vaccine trial then under way, says Salazar. But she wasn’t deterred. “Sue worked hard at finding physicians who would work with her and get her to the point where she would be potentially eligible,” Salazar says.
Then Salazar and Disis designed a clinical trial for women just like Flanagan — women with progressive, HER2/neu-specific breast cancer. In 2004, Flanagan started treatment, and in 2006, she moved to the Puget Sound region to be closer to the source of that treatment: the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).
Flanagan remembers her first visits to the SCCA with her husband, Tom. “The more I saw the SCCA — the atmosphere, the nurses — for the first time, it wasn’t just the two of us fighting alone,” she says.
Sue Morrow Flanagan, seen here with Lupe G. Salazar, Fel. ’02, Fel. ’03, is part of one of the SCCA’s clinical trials. Flanagan, who has had breast cancer for eight years, says the trial has been an extraordinary experience. “I’ve been able to take back some kind of control in knowing I’m part of scientific work that is most likely going to change the world — and possibly save my beloved daughter,” she says.