Sun Special Report: The Trial of Their Lives

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March 4, 2009

Peggy Murphy, 58, dies of breast cancer

Peggy Murphy, whose tireless fight against advanced breast cancer through traditional means and an experimental vaccine trial at Johns Hopkins was chronicled in a Baltimore Sun series last fall, died yesterday. She was 58.

February 15, 2009

Inspired by vaccine trial, cancer patient gives back

A patient in an experimental breast cancer vaccine trial, one that was the subject of a series in The Baltimore Sun, has raised more than $14,000 to go toward that research. She presented the check Friday to the doctor overseeing the study.

The trial of their lives

October 12, 2008

First of six chapters

The trial of their lives

A Hopkins doctor's vaccine offers a hope of survival for four women with terminal breast cancer


Photo gallery: The trial of their lives
Graphic: Combating metastatic breast cancer
More information: What the vaccine does

Elusive cure

October 13, 2008

Second of six chapters

Elusive cure

For nearly a decade, Dr. Leisha Emens has been driven to develop a vaccine to stop breast cancer


Video: Hopkins doctor on quest to develop vaccine
Photo gallery: Dr. Emens' vaccine trials at Hopkins

It's not working

October 14, 2008

Third of six chapters

It's not working

Peggy Murphy put her faith in an experimental breast cancer vaccine, only to be let down


Video: Murphy talks about her recurrence of breast cancer
Photo gallery: Peggy Murphy's journey

The job of getting well

October 15, 2008

Fourth of six chapters

The job of getting well

Mom endures cancer treatment in hopes daughter won't have to do the same


Video: Darby Steadman sees the potential for more life in the breast cancer vaccine trial
Photo gallery: Steadman endures cancer treatments

'Leisha's Girls' come together

October 16, 2008

Fifth of six chapters

'Leisha's Girls' come together

Breast cancer patients want more information than doctor can provide


Video: Susan Marangi talks about terminal cancer and the vaccine trial
Photo gallery: Susan Marangi's journey

Moving on, fighting on

October 17, 2008

Last of six chapters

Moving on, fighting on

Patients sustained by hope; doctor readies next study of cancer vaccine


Video: Annie Siple's search for alternatives to chemotherapy brings her to vaccine study
Photo gallery: Annie Siple's journey

The reporting
Reporter Stephanie Desmon and photographer Chiaki Kawajiri spent the past six months following the lives of four women enrolled in a trial of an experimental breast cancer vaccine, and the Johns Hopkins oncologist who oversees it. They witnessed virtually all of the scenes, and have first-hand accounts of the others. Desmon spent many hours interviewing Dr. Leisha Emens over multiple occasions, as well as visiting her lab, watching her give talks about her research and accompanying her to a gym to prepare for a mountain-climbing trip. Other events were reconstructed through interviews with patients, co-workers, family members and experts in the field of cancer immunology.

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