Durham, N.C. — The tens of thousands of runners who will participate Saturday in the Triangle Race for the Cure and the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have raised to support breast cancer research have paid dividends in the work of a Duke oncologist.
Dr. Kim Blackwell was featured this year in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world. She led a major international study that resulted in approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a breast cancer drug with fewer unpleasant side effects than chemotherapy.
The FDA's approval in February made the drug available for late-stage breast cancer patients. Studies are now under way to see if Blackwell's breakthrough drug can be used in patients with earlier stages of the disease.
"I live for the day where we don't have to give chemotherapy for breast cancer," Blackwell said.
With her work, Blackwell thinks that day is getting closer.
"I think, over the past decade, we've gone from patients really having to suffer through cancer treatment to where patients are actually being treated for their disease," she said.
Most of her patients are young women.
"Breast cancer leaves behind children and spouses," Blackwell said. "The ripple effect of cancer is so great, you realize there's not a single person who hasn't been touched by breast cancer."
Equally touching is the gift of support from fundraisers like the Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure.
"For me, it's overwhelming to be a part of something," Blackwell said. She credits a grant from the Komen Foundation for supporting her research.
On Saturday, Blackwell will ring the bell to start the Triangle Race for the Cure.
"It doesn't matter if you're fast or slow, we are all there for one reason which is that we can make a difference in breast cancer," she said.