EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) –June is National Cancer Survivor’s Month, 30 days designated to honor, support, and recognize our toughest warriors.

One of them is a Central New York woman who’s taking part in a national clinical trial in Syracuse that she says saved her life.

“At 30 I did not expect to get breast cancer.”

Brianna Procopio

A cancer diagnosis in the middle of a pandemic was Brianna Procopio’s nightmare-turned-reality, but it wasn’t a death sentence.

“I think the most important thing through everything is your mindset,” said Procopio.

Her silver lining was a national clinical study designed to personalize treatment that’s being conducted in East Syracuse at the Hematology-Oncology Associates of Central New York (HOACNY).

A big focus in not only breast cancer but other cancers as well is something called de-intensification. Not every patient is the same so we’re looking at personalizing treatments. There are patients that may get by with less intensive therapy.

Doctor Jeffrey Kirshner – Director of Research, HOACNY

Brianna is one of those patients. Instead of three chemotherapy drugs along with antibodies, she only needed one.

“In her case, she had the one chemo drug, two antibodies, had surgery, and the cancer was gone completely,” said Kirshner.

“It’s funny when I say I only got 12 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy, I feel like I got it easy,” Procopio said.

It was no walk in the park. The mental, emotional, and physical rollercoaster was intense, but compared to what others went through with the same HER2-positive cancer, her treatment was more tolerable.

“Some people have neuropathy, which is the numbness in your fingers, toes. I didn’t have that luckily,” Procopio said.

Instead, the trial brought remission, an army of doctors on her side, and she’s helping future patients in the process.

No one is really immune to this and it’s scary, and it’s ok to be scared and it’s ok to be upset. But it’s also ok to be happy and enjoy the little moments.

Brianna Procopio

Dr. Kirshner encourages patients to talk to their doctor and see if they qualify for any clinical trials.

You can also contact the HOACNY Research Department during regular business hours by calling (315) 472-7504, choose option 1 and enter extension 1350 when prompted, or email clinicaltrials@hoacny.com.