"This way, we won't have to keep the patient on the drugs for eight to 10 months if they aren't working for her," says DeMichele. "We can move on to other options if we see that the blood supply to the tumor is unchanged."
One of the challenges to DeMichele's research is finding women to participate in clinical trials, which she says is of vital importance.
"Participating can help others as well as offer patients the best and most specialized care in trials," she says. "We're not testing things that are unknown; we're tweaking treatments to make them even more effective for patients."
The future will hold better treatments to target specific breast cancers, according to DeMichele.
"The goal is to find treatments to eradicate the disease, not just control it," she says. "We're going to be able to test tumors for a whole range of proteins, and then can use non-invasive imaging to see how our treatments are working."
For Karen Esposito, one of her goals now is to impart the wisdom of her body to her friends, neighbors and cousins, by showing them how to do breast self-exams.
"It's scary how many women I knew don't do self-exams because they say they don't know what to look for," she says. "If I can tell women one thing, it's that you're never too young to get breast cancer."