How Research Saved My Life

Friday, May 25, 2018 - 3:04pm

When Elyse NeMoyer was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 1995, she says it felt like it came out of the blue.

“I was devastated,” says NeMoyer. “I thought I was a really healthy person, and there is no history of breast cancer in my family.”

Determined to aggressively fight the disease, NeMoyer knew she wanted the latest treatments. She was initially referred to a doctor at a different facility, but she called Roswell Park and was seen the next day.

Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!
Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.

Sign up!

Ellis Levine, MD, Chief of Breast Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, is the oncologist who initially treated her. When they first met, Dr. Levine explained the standard treatment regimen for breast cancer and the clinical trial options. The wife and mother of four knew she wanted to be part of a clinical trial. She was placed on two.

“Elyse was part of two clinical trials that changed the practice of treating breast cancer,” says Dr. Levine. “The first one she participated in established that adding taxanes, which are a type of drug that blocks cell growth, to the then-standard treatment of Adriamycin and Cytoxan increased survival rates. She also participated in another trial, which established that prolonging hormonal treatment also improves outcomes,” says Dr. Levine.

“Being part of these clinical trials was a positive experience for me,” says NeMoyer. “For anyone who’s thinking about being part of one, I would first tell them to get all of the information they need. If you start a clinical trial, you are not bound to it. If you want to stop and only get the standard treatment regimen, you can. I had peace of mind knowing that the doctors at Roswell Park are always doing research. They’re always searching for better ways to treat patients. So I knew I was in good hands.”

NeMoyer beat breast cancer, but in 2007, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She had a bone marrow transplant in March 2008, and the Orchard Park resident has been cancer-free for more than 10 years. She credits the research and clinical trials with saving her life. “Research saves lives. You’re not only doing it for yourself. It’s for the greater good.”

“Elyse courageously participated in clinical protocols not only to hopefully help herself, but also to unselfishly increase our knowledge of treatment so that in the future, other women with breast cancer can be helped as well,” says Dr. Levine. “Both studies were positive in regards to changing the present standard of care for breast cancer.”  

NeMoyer is on the Board of Directors at Roswell Park. She was appointed in 2013.