Florida Woman Recovers from Breast Cancer with Trial Vaccine

April 11, 2020

A Florida woman is back on her feet months after being diagnosed with breast cancer, thanks to a new experimental vaccine that has shown success against the deadly disease.

Lee Mercker of Jacksonville was shocked to learn in March that she had stage zero DCIS, an early stage of breast cancer.

“I’m healthy,” she told FOX35. “That’s why I’m crazy. I was freaking out, and everyone around me was crazier and more shocked.”

Mercker’s doctor at the Mayo Clinic listed her options – she could go the typical treatment route, or she could join a new clinical trial to get a vaccine that kills cancer cells.

“I signed on the dotted line that day,” she told WLTV.

The vaccine is just a shot, given over a 12-week period.

“They always draw your blood, you get a physical, and they’re there to give you the shot,” Mercker said.” That’s three shots, all in a row, alternating arms, four shots, two weeks apart.”

“It’s supposed to stimulate the patient’s own immune response so that T-cells and other immune cells go in and attack the cancer,” Dr. Saranya Chumsri, one of the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, told WLTV.

And the vaccine worked quickly.Mercker’s doctor said her tumor shrank and her immune system started working to kill the cancer cells.

Mercker also underwent a double mastectomy to make sure the cancer was completely out of her body, but she’s doing well now, just seven months after she was first diagnosed.Mercker says she’s surprised by the breakthrough and hopes the vaccine will help more breast cancer survivors.

“I feel like I’m walking on the moon,” she told FOX35. “I work in an industry with a lot of women, and I see all kinds of stories, and it would be really great to get this [breast cancer] printed.”

The Mayo Clinic is testing the vaccine on more patients, including some with stage IV breast cancer, and has seen positive results.Keith Knutson, another of Mercker’s doctors, told Fox 35 that he expects to start testing a vaccine to stop breast cancer from forming in healthy patients, a “flu vaccine against breast cancer.”