Dr. Shelby Tierstrip

Now is the perfect time to advance genomic medicine, because the technology is there, and it’s getting faster and faster every day.

The types of therapies we use right now to treat breast cancer are really a shotgun approach to treatment. The future of breast cancer treatment is personalized care.

My vision for the future is that we’re able to identify people who are high risk early on, at the genetic level, and use diet and lifestyle as much as we can to prevent breast cancer. Based on that, if they do develop cancer, we can treat it with a really focused therapy based on those genes, completely killing the tumor. That would be the big goal.

This type of research is so crucial. It’s the only way we’re going to find a cure. This is a whole new way of thinking and of looking at cancer treatment. We’ve seen it work for other cancer types, and we know we need to do the same thing with breast cancer.

What frustrates me about cancer treatment right now is that I know there is going to be a cure in the future, but that doesn’t help the patients I’m treating right now.

I think what breaks my heart the most is seeing families lose their loved ones way too early in their lives. I see moms who are taking care of their young little children, and they work, and they have to take chemo for four hours a week, and do scans, and totally disrupt their lives…It’s terrible. And I’m at their age. I could have to go through this too.

I see the process where they’re preparing their kids for them not being there, and I try to walk them through that. We talk about writing letters for their children for their wedding, or for the other most important things in their life that they’re not going to be there for.

These women are really amazing people. And they look to me to provide the best hope possible. I want to be that person for them, but I also want to be that person who is going to advance the science for them, because they deserve it.

I think what’s so great about this foundation is that 100 percent is going directly to the cure, towards research and care for the patients. That is so unique, and such an opportunity for people to really make a difference.

In my lifetime, I want to see a cure. I don’t want to retire until there is one.

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