The Culprit is Cancer
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closing in fast is Dr. Dennis Slamon and his team of UCLA researchers,
powered by unprecedented support from philanthropists Lilly Tartikoff
and Revlon CEP Ronald O. Perelman
the morning of May 17, early, the streets of downtown Los Angeles
were deserted. Bright sunlight spilled over the gray buildings and
empty parking lots around Figueroa and 9th. But inside the sprawling
Los Angeles Convention Center, the scene was anything but quiet.
Men and women wearing suits and name tags rushed about looking for
meeting rooms. Media from Germany and France, as well as from People
magazine and CNN, roamed the hallways, looking for a sexy story.
All told, some 19,000 physicians and scientists and hundreds of
members of the press had converged on the annual meeting of the
American Society of Clinical Oncology.
this day of presentations by the nation's most esteemed cancer researchers,
there was one scientist in particular many were eager to hear. Dr.
Slamon had attended countless conferences in his 20 years as a scientist
and faced many audiences. As director of the Revlon/UCLA Women's
Cancer Research Program, the 49-year-old researcher had even become
something of a celebrity, mingling with Hollywood stars at gala
fund-raisers and Bel-Air dinner parties. But in all of Slamon's
career, no conference was more critical than this one. Today, at
a 9 a.m. press conference, he would announce the final trial results
of a new breast cancer drug called Herceptin. This would be the
culmination, in essence, of his life's work.
a room of the convention center down the hall from where Slamon
would meet the press, a small, cheerful woman with blonde curls
was waiting to tell her story. Ginger Empey had driven 110 miles
from her home in Bakersfield to attend the prestigious scientific
gathering, paying the $250 fee out of her own pocket. "I'm carrying
this message to a lot of other women," she explained. "Everybody
needs a success story."