As I put up my wall calendar by my desk in our new offices in Santa Monica, I took a moment to revel in the fact that March is Women’s History Month.

It wasn’t that long ago—the 1970s!—that most educators didn’t even think of addressing “women’s history.” How far we’ve come! Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find an elementary school that doesn’t have its teachers devote time to the advances women have made. And there is no question that the attention given to the amazing achievements women have made in medicine, science, government, the arts, and beyond not only helps fuel the desires of our daughters to aim high but broadens the ways in which our sons think about their world.

In my own life, I have been impressed and empowered time and time again by the amazing women I have had the opportunities to meet and work with in the medical arena. And I am incredibly proud that my accomplishments have encouraged my own daughter—who is now a sophomore in college—to aim high.

Am I driven? Yes. Do I want to be the first to get us to the end of breast cancer? Yes. But how could I not. There are so many women around us accomplishing so many “famous firsts.” I’ve got to keep up!

That’s why, in recognition of Women’s History Month, I want to draw your attention to one of the Foundation’s amazing “firsts” now getting underway. Thanks to a grant we received from the California Breast Cancer Research Program, the Foundation is starting the first-ever pre-surgery study to explore what happens when we treat the pre-cancer ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) by putting the chemotherapy drug Doxil directly into the breast ducts.

As you probably know, for years I have dreamed of conducting a study like this. And now, we are! You can read all the details of the study here. But the basics are this: The study will enroll 30 women who have been diagnosed with DCIS but have not yet had surgery. First, we will identify which duct contains the DCIS. Then we will put a small amount of the chemotherapy drug Doxil through the breast nipple into the affected milk duct. The volunteer will go home, with a surgery date set in four to six weeks. Prior to the surgery, the volunteer will have an MRI. We will also take a sample of her nipple fluid. After the surgery, we’ll study the tissue removed to see what affect the chemotherapy drug had on the DCIS.
This research is being conducted in collaboration with Ellen Mahoney, MD, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka, Calif., and the Northern California Humboldt Community Breast Heath Project. The study volunteers will need to travel to Eureka, Calif., for the treatment and the surgery.

If you know of anyone who has recently been diagnosed with DCIS who might like to take part, please have them contact the Foundation’s Clinical Research Specialist Ashley Casano at (310) 230-1712 Ext. 32 or send her an email. We’d love to have them join us in making history!

Later this month, I’ll be setting sail as part of another amazing first Olivia’s Cruise for Our Cause, the first cruise experience dedicated to breast cancer, women’s health awareness, and research funding. We’ll be blogging from the ship, so stay tuned for updates on our adventure!

And remember, as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!”

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