Is Immunotherapy The Way to Help Cure Cancer?

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Our main story is about Vanessa Johnson Brandon, who people call Miss Vanessa. She woke up on June 24, 2014 feeling incredibly sick. What she first thought to be food poisoning turned out to be something worse, as the pain failed to subside after a couple of hours. Scared, she called her daughter, Keara Grade, to get her to a hospital. Once she got there, doctors took a CT scan which showed a large mass in her colon.

What was it?

Since they could not know for sure what it was, doctors took more tests but told her that she would have to wait for some time before she could get the results. When the date where the doctor would tell her the result, Miss Vanessa found out that she had cancer, what was her worse fear.

She underwent chemotherapy for 11 months but one day the doctor called to tell her that there was nothing more they could do to help her.

What changed?

Her husband, in a frenetic search for a cure, came up with a new treatment option at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. This treatment option fights cancer by working with the body’s immune system, trying to fight the battle from within. This particular treatment dealt is a checkpoint inhibitor, which is meant to get the body to use the T-cell as a way to fight cancer. They activate the weapons to fight something that the body detects as being foreign in order to get rid of it.

Miss Vanessa’s genes matched the genetic material that doctors wanted to experience on so she was allowed to follow this treatment. Surprisingly enough, the treatment worked for her and helped her fight cancer. This is a beacon of hope for people who fight this deadly disease and, hopefully, in the future it would work for more people.

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Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca


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