By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBS11) – An exciting new development in the world of breast cancer research is happening right here in North Texas.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center have identified a molecule that shuts down estrogen-sensitive breast cancer in a new way, giving hope to patients whose cancers have become resistant to traditional therapies or whose cancer has returned.

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“You think you’ve beaten it, you think you’ve won, and then when it comes back: that is absolutely terrifying,” says Dr. Ganesh Raj, Professor of Urology and Pharmacology. “When it comes back, this gives you a chance.”

Dr. Ganesh credits an entire team for the discovery of ERX-11, also called a “first-in-class” drug because it works to combat cancer in a way that has not been tried in other therapies.

“The cancer mutates and finds a way to change its genetic structure, so that now, the drugs that are targeting it are no longer gonna work,” says Dr. Raj. “That’s why you need additional drugs that work in a fundamentally different way.”

Sandy Chapman of McKinney is both excited and hopeful.  The former nurse knows well that cancer is a formidable foe.

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“If I had exhibited signs of heart disease, I would have ran to the hospital or doctor immediately,” says Chapman. “But, cancer? It’s not going to happen to me, it’s not in my family.”

But, the cancer didn’t care. Fifteen months after a clear mammogram, Chapman was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She fought it and won. Then…

“In April 2015, I was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer,” says Chapman. “I had a wonderful medical team… and I had my faith.”

Now, Chapman says cancer is something she lives with, so she fills her days loving on her family, and she’s always ready to fight.

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“You know what my hope is?” asks Chapman. “That eventually the words ‘you have breast cancer’ will be completely eliminated from our vocabulary. Never give up. Ever!”