About this series

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.