Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Kimberly Michelle Smith: Breast Cancer Survivor and Clinical Trials Participant

Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Sheryl Gabram Mendola interviewing survivor Kimberly Michelle Smith

In May of 2013, while exercising Michelle felt a small mass on her left breast. In 2015, she met Andre (her husband), starting her life as a young, vibrant, African American woman. As Michelle states, she was “on her way to living every girl’s dream of love, marriage, and then the baby in the baby carriage!” While showering she noticed that after two years the lump was still in her breast. She scheduled her annual physical, and unfortunately was told by her doctor not to worry about the lump; “You’re too young,” the doctor exclaimed! 

In 2019 Michelle sought a second opinion by a new doctor who scheduled her for a mammogram and ultrasound. The COVID-19 pandemic hit and stalled her appointment for what has already been a long and unsettling process. In August 31, 2021, after completing a mammogram and ultrasound., at just 36 years old, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast with a suspicious area on her right breast.

Michelle made the difficult decision to have double mastectomy surgery on November 2, 2021, she froze seven (7) embryos December 2021 and January 2022 she entered a clinical trial, completing four rounds of intense chemotherapy. A component of her trial included the research team tracking neuropathy in African American women under treatment using the drug Taxane (docetaxel).

Michelle admits she was hesitant to participate in the clinical trial at first, because of the uncertainty and having a bit of selfishness for her own health. However, after voicing her concerns to her doctor (Dr. Jay) and an amazing research nurse, she felt comfortable with being a part of a clinical trial that would allow her to discuss the effects of the treatment.  Oftentimes, patients dealing with serious illness hear the words “clinical trial” and they feel reluctant to move forward. Michelle felt reassured this trial allowed her to feel confident in knowing that her experience would benefit more black women undergoing treatment for breast cancer in the future. From her participation in this trial, her research nurse, later became a part of her support group.  Michelle believes that clinical trials are important because they allow medications and treatments to be effectively targeted for African American women. 

Michelle introduced the Clinical Trial Model for Minority Patients (ECCE) after her breast cancer journey and participation in the clinical trial. It became her mission to encourage doctors, minority patients, legislators, and others about the importance of clinical trials. Michelle believes that education, connection, communication, and engagement are some of the first steps to increase African American and other minority participation in clinical trials that can advance medicine, and target illnesses and diseases more effectively.

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