Three Ways Stress Takes a Toll on Your Body

Did the latest challenge at work bring on a tightening in your stomach? Does constant worry about a loved one’s health, make you physically ill yourself?

Everyone at some point feels the effects of stress. Not everyone deals with stress in the best way, though.

“Often stressed-out people seek relief through alcohol, tobacco or drugs, but that just makes matters worse,” says Richard Purvis, a health and wellness practitioner and author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age ( “Instead of relieving stress, those toxic substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state, causing even more physical problems.”

April is Stress Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on how the demands and anxieties of daily life put a strain not just on our minds, but on our bodies as well.

Stress, of course, is not always a bad thing. It does serve a positive purpose.

“It can keep us alert and prepares us to avoid danger,” Purvis said “But stress becomes a negative factor when a person faces continuous challenges without any time mixed in for relief or relaxation.”

As a result, he says, people become overworked, and stress-related anxiety and illness can occur. The strain leads them to suffer from such ailments as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.

Purvis gives three examples of how stress can play havoc on our bodies include:

•Musculoskeletal system. When we experience stress, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. “It’s the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain,” Purvis says. Usually, the muscles relax once the stressful event passes. But chronic stress keeps the muscles in a constant state of guardedness. “When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time other reactions in the body are triggered,” he says. Chronic muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and head can lead to tension-type headaches and migraines.

•Respiratory system. Stress causes people to breathe harder. “That’s not a problem for most people,” Purvis says. “But if you suffer from asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting essential oxygen can be difficult.”

He says some studies show that acute stress events— such as the death of a loved one— can trigger asthma attacks in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constrict. Also, rapid breathing associated with stress or hyperventilation can result in a panic attack in some people.

•Gastrointestinal system. Sometimes people who are stressed will eat much more than usual. Sometimes they will eat much less. Neither is healthy. “You can get heartburn or acid reflux if you eat more food or different types of food, or if you increase how much alcohol you drink or tobacco you use,” Purvis says. When you’re stressed, the brain sends alert sensations to the stomach. Your stomach can react with “butterflies,” nausea or pain. “Severe stress can cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation,” he says. “If your stress becomes chronic, you might develop ulcers or severe stomach pain.”

So what’s to be done? Purvis points out that stress is a natural occurrence in life and happens to everyone.

“Since you can’t avoid your job, bills, or other life experiences, the best thing to do is learn to manage stress,” he says. “You won’t avoid stress entirely, but it is possible to minimize the effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking care of yourself in general.”

Richard Purvis, author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age, is a health and wellness practitioner with more than 30 years of dedicated experience in nutrition, exercise, anti-aging and overall wellness. For more information, visit:

Money Power Day Scheduled for April 7

The region’s biggest free financial fitness fair, “Money Power Day,” returns Saturday, Apri1 7 at Poly-Western High School.

More than 1,000 adults, teens and children are expected to attend the event sponsored by the nonprofit CASH Campaign of Maryland and its partners.

The event aims to boost the financial well-being of residents with activities designed to inspire and inform individuals of all ages and income levels, officials said.

Free workshops, exhibitors, credit counseling, financial planning and children’s activities will be available at the event which kicks off at 9 a.m.

“Money Power Day is all about hope and building a prosperous financial future regardless of where you are in that journey,” said Courtney Bettle, the director of Financial Capability for the Cash Campaign.

“It’s your one-stop shop for getting the support you need to achieve your financial dreams whether that’s starting or growing your business, home ownership, or paying for college,” said Bettle, a graduate of Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University.

As a whole, the African-American community has systematically been locked out of wealth building opportunities since being brought to this country and the CASH Campaign, along with its partners, are working to change that by reducing the barriers to accessing the resources and information Baltimoreans need to grow their savings and build wealth, Bettle said.

She said the tenacity and resilience of CASH Campaign clients inspires her each day. “It’s incredibly motivating to see our clients exceed their personal financial goals and gain peace of mind when they take control of their financial lives,” she said.

Originally from West Philadelphia, Bettle once worked for Baltimore City Public Schools in its Engagement Office where she supported the planning and implementation of district-wide community engagement initiatives like the community design process of the 21st Century Building initiative.

Prior to that, she was also involved in efforts to reduce hunger and poverty in Maryland and around the country.

“I was drawn to CASH because of the underling mission to build financial security for the most vulnerable families and support families in growing their personal wealth, particularly for people of color and women,” Bettle said, noting that she’s been at CASH since 2014.

“Money Power Day is so special because it’s an opportunity for individuals and families to receive support and encouragement in all areas of their financial life without the fear of being taken advantage of,” Bettle said.

“All the partners that make Money Power Day possible; the nonprofits, government agencies, financial institutions. They’re committed to helping Baltimore residents achieve their financial goals and to make it fun at the same time,” she said.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Bettle plan to engage attendees at the event while Pastor Franklin Lance of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church will give the Invocation. Fox 45’s Chardelle Moore will serve as master of ceremonies.

Bettle said the CASH Campaign of Maryland was awarded the Neighborhood Builder Award by Bank of America. In addition to a generous grant to the organization, Bettle represents CASH as the organization’s Emerging Leader in Bank of America’s national leadership program with Neighborhood Builder Awardees from the other markets across the country.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn and develop my skills as a leader,” she said.

For more information about Money Power Day, visit

Sixth Annual Annapolis Film Festival Showcased 80+ Films

A documentary film about the life of entertainment legend Sammy Davis, Jr. packed the house at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts at the Annapolis Film Festival, held March 22-25, 2018.

Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me documentary was an immediate show-stealer on just the second day of the annual film showcase, which hopes to someday rival events like Sundance, Cannes and Tribeca.

At the former Annapolis High School auditorium, nearly a thousand folks packed the venue to witness the soon-to-be-released feature film, directed and produced by Samuel D. Pollard. The filmmaker is a colleague of Shelton “Spike” Lee, and is also a product of New York City, Spanish Harlem to be exact, he said during the post-film question and answer sessions with the audience. Suzanne Kay, Dianne Carroll’s daughter, also joined Pollard onstage to respond to audience reactions to Pollard’s production.

Though recent works have focused on Sammy’s life via the TV idiom, including the TV One-produced UNSUNG HOLLYWOOD biopic, Pollard is able to dig much deeper in taking an in-depth view at the complicated life of the superstar. Surprisingly, Davis Jr. died at a somewhat youthful age of 64. His career began at age three, however.

Pollard’s film reveals the “ups and downs” of Davis, who’s considered the original trailblazer for all black performers who ultimately wanted to entertain multi-racial audiences. Though it came at a price, Davis Jr. fought a continuous civil rights battle to achieve equality as a true human being, and for his entire race. Interestingly, Pollard’s film utilized onscreen interviews with Davis’ close friends like Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis, Quincy Jones and a former lover actress Kim Novak.

Pollard said his now-finished product is headed for PBS-TV’s “American Masters,” with a release date set for late spring, early Summer 2018.

Pollard began his career as a producer on “Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads in 1989.”

Another intriguing film, which screened as one of the 80-plus that appeared from March 22-25, was “Flock of Four.” The Gregory Caruso-produced film spotlighted a quartet of young white jazz musicians who were enamored with the premier black musicians of the period. The piece was set in 1950s Los Angeles, and displays when the youngsters gathered their nerves and took a cab trip to South Central Los Angeles.

While the film had a great opportunity to display racial harmony through the bonds of musicianship, unfortunately – the theme took a played-out, over-used flavor of racism on both ends. While filmed mostly at night, or within doors – the movie had a dark edge, and is simply one I cannot recommend for further viewing. Entirely way too much use of the “N” word and other negative vibes permeate the otherwise classic jazz music soundtrack (“Night In Tunesia” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk”), which flows throughout the entire film.

Suzanne Kay, the daughter of legendary actress Diahann Carroll, appeared at the festival where she promoted her upcoming feature film, dedicated to ‘Sullivision: Ed Sullivan’ which examines the variety show host’s ground-breaking record of staging black artists on his show in the 1950s and 1960s, when such appearances on TV were unusual and rare.

Lastly, Joanne Froggatt, the English actress of stage, television and film, was a special attraction at the Annapolis Film Festival, where she starred in the Spotlight Film called “A Crooked Somebody.” Ms. Froggatt is known internationally, having appeared in all six seasons of the popular UK-produced period piece known as Downton Abbey. She played lady’s maid, Anna Bates during all six seasons of the PBS-based drama. The show ran from 2010 to 2016.

Videos Created by Youth Speak About Violence in City

A ray of hope prevailed in Baltimore City as the Kennedy Krieger Institute: Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress brought together students, trauma experts, and community groups to screen two mini-documentaries March 22, 2018 at the Parkway Theatre. About 50 persons attended.

The students from the Trauma Stress Center created the videos with the help of New Lens, “a youth-driven social justice organization that makes art and media about issues where a youth perspective can inspire change.”

Break the Chain; the first video screened showed how middle school students through the Kennedy Krieger program come together to face violence and abuse.

The video begins with the middle school film creators explaining the mission of the video. “There are a lot of events throughout this video. They might make you emotional or angry. This video shows how we come together in group therapy to face violence and abuse,” they said.

The second film, “B’more Loving” expresses the sentiments of high school students living with gun violence.

“Everyday I look at the news and because of guns…. he barely missed me,” said one of the youth about facing gun violence in her neighborhood.

Another young person said, “I lost a cousin to gun violence and it still affects me.” “Life can be taken away in a snap,” said another youth. “It upsets me, and I try to forget about it. Then, it’s like “I am used to it,” another youth said.

Crevontaye Lee, one of the high school student producers of B’more Loving, said, “We created the film to show that guns are not the answer.”

After the video screenings, the creators of “B’more Loving” served on the first panel. Erricka Bridgeford of Baltimore Cease Fire; and James Timpson, of Safe Streets spoke of their organizations’ efforts to stem violence on the second panel.

Safe Streets is a City of Baltimore program that puts savvy street mediators in marginalized unsafe communities to prevent violence and to avoid police intervention. Erricka Bridgeford, director of the nonprofit Community Mediation program, created Baltimore Cease Fire to appeal for the end of gun violence murders over a 72-hour weekend. The program runs periodically.

Both panelists used colorful, audience-appealing language to describe their missions. Timmons talked of “thug recovery” and Bridgeford,” described the “Huxtables of the ghetto” using Bill Cosby’s television family sit-com.

Sarah Davis, a Kennedy Krieger Institute trauma therapist, who helped the youth pull together the video, defined violence as “an intentional act to cause harm to other people.”

Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, Assistant Vice President, and Director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute: Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress underlined the mission and her passion for the work.

“We desire to provide high-quality treatment to underserved, and under-resourced youth to facilitate better-coping strategies,” Dr. Thompson said. “Traumatic stress is a significant event that happens to a child that overwhelms their psychological or physical ability to cope.”

Youth and parents in need of the Center’s services, should contact the intake coordinator at 443-923-5980 or email:

Governor Hogan Welcomes UMBC Men’s Basketball Team To Government House

Governor Larry Hogan, First Lady Yumi Hogan, and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford welcomed the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) men’s basketball team, Head Coach Ryan Odom, and President Freeman Hrabowski to Government House yesterday evening. The team made history after being seeded 16th in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, then going on to upset No. 1 seed University of Virginia in the first round. The win marked the first time in history a 16 seed won against a one seed.

Governor Hogan presented an official Governor’s citation to the team and Governor’s challenge coins to the players.

Obama Hopes to Aid ‘Human Progress’ by Creating ‘A Million Young Barack Obamas’

Washington Times

Obama Hopes to Aid ‘Human Progress’ by Creating ‘A Million Young Barack Obamas’

Barack Obama may be able to host his own “Million Obama March” if his foundation’s goals are fully realized. The former president told an audience in Japan over the weekend that the Obama Foundation seeks to aid “human progress” by creating an army of political clones just like him. “The single most important thing I could…

WE Day Unites Young Change-makers in Baltimore with Special Guests Martin Luther King III, Rasheda Ali, Lizzy Greene, The Kenyan Boys Choir and more

The world’s largest youth empowerment event, WE Day, is coming to Baltimore for the first-time on April 11, 2018 at the Hippodrome Theatre. WE Day is a live event celebrating social change and bringing together thousands of young people who have made a difference across Maryland.

The inaugural WE Day Community: Baltimore will host 2,000 students and educators from across the state for a powerful, life-changing experience featuring renowned speakers, innovative thought leaders and celebrity performers including Montel Williams, Martin Luther King III, Lizzy Greene, Shawn Hook, Millie Davis, In Real Life, local award-winning published slam poet Mecca Verdell, Rasheda Ali, Celebrity Marauders, The Kenyan Boys Choir, Spencer West and many more still to be announced. Joined by international activist and WE Day co-founder, Craig Kielburger, the exciting lineup will share their passion for change, energize the crowd and motivate young people to continue to take action on pressing issues to affect positive change in their communities and around the world.

“We know young people can lead real systemic change here in Baltimore and across America. Which is why we are passionate about supporting them through the WE organization,” said Adair Newhall, President, Brightside Foundation “What we need is more active citizens working to make our world better and there is no doubt this generation is leading that movement. They are the real heroes and the ones who can foster a philanthropic culture, both globally and locally.”

A catalyst to support the movement of young people leading change, WE Day is a series of 19 stadium-sized events held across the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and the Caribbean. This past year, more than 200,000 students from over 10,000 schools attended WE Day events, alongside thousands who watched online and millions more through two national North American TV broadcasts. Students can’t buy a ticket to WE Day—youth earn their way by the actions they take on one local and one global cause of their choice.

More than a one-day event, WE Day is connected to the free, yearlong service-learning educational program WE Schools, providing schools and community groups with educational resources and tools to take action on the issues affecting their community. WE Schools was first launched in Baltimore in February of 2017, thanks to the generous support of Ashton and Adair Newhall and Brightside Foundation. The program is designed to enhance a school’s existing social initiatives as well as give way to new ones to empower young people to create positive change in the world. WE Schools encourages students to further their curricular learning and develop life skills for success beyond the classroom.

“We are surrounded by youth of the WE generation—a generation that is tuned-in to the needs of their community both globally and locally. They have committed to choosing hope, optimism, empathy and courage over fear, division, apathy and intolerance,” said Craig Kielburger. “We are honored to celebrate the young people from over 150 schools and youth groups from across Baltimore, who have joined together to make a difference and prove that you are never too young to change the world.”

With more to be announced, the initial list of WE Day Community: Baltimore hosts, speakers and performers includes:

Co-Hosts: Millie Davis, Lizzy Greene, Tai Young

Speakers: Rasheda Ali, James Piper Bond, Nardia Boodoo, Grace Callwood, Darius I. Craig, Sarah Hemminger, Craig Kielburger, Martin Luther King III, Dr. Jaqueline Sanderlin, Mecca Verdell, Spencer West, Montel Williams

Performers: Celebrity Marauders, Shawn Hook, In Real Life, The Kenyan Boys Choir

WE Day is free of charge to students and educators across the U.S. thanks to the generous support of partners led by National Co-Title Sponsor The Allstate Foundation. Through its Good Starts Young® initiative, The Allstate Foundation empowers America’s youth with the strength, confidence and skills to step us as leaders and achieve success in their lives.

WE Day is supported in Baltimore by Co-Chairs Ashton and Adair Newhall, founders of Brightside Foundation.

Nationally, WE Day is supported by Co-Chairs Tom Wilson, Chairman and CEO, Allstate; Jane Francisco, Editorial Director of Hearst Lifestyle Group and Editor in Chief of Good Housekeeping; Brett Tollman, CEO, The Travel Corporation; Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; and Steve Robinson, CEO and Founder, Zilliance; and Janet Crown, CEO, Burn 60 Studios.

About WE Day

WE Day is part of WE – a family of organizations making doing good, doable. WE is made up of WE Charity, empowering domestic and international change, ME to WE, a social enterprise that creates socially conscious products and experiences to help support the charity, and WE Day, filling stadiums around the world with the greatest celebration of social good. WE enables youth and families to better the world – supporting 7,200+ local and global causes by volunteering millions of hours of service, shopping daily with an impact, and raising millions of dollars that directly benefit their local communities and the world. Globally, WE teams in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have provided more than 1 million people with clean water, built 1,000 schools and schoolrooms overseas, and empowered more than 200,000 children with access to education. WE was founded more than 20 years ago by social entrepreneurs, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. Join the movement today at

About The Allstate Foundation

Father-Daughter Team Expands Black-Owned Potato Chip Brand Throughout Metro Atlanta’s Wayfield Foods Stores

There are only a handful of existing black-owned potato chip brands in the world, and one of them has found a home throughout the metro Atlanta-based Wayfield Foods store chain on March 17, 2018. Known as Symphony Chips, this black-owned potato chip brand is led by Dondre Anderson and his teenage daughters, Amina (15) and Amari (14). In celebration of their Wayfield Foods debut, the father-daughter team provided Symphony Chips samples to customers at the Wayfield Foods store location at 3050 Martin Luther King Jr Drive. Customer feedback received was overwhelmingly positive.

“They’re good! Well seasoned. A very good chip!” states a customer at Symphony Chips’ debut at Wayfield Foods.

Since gaining coverage from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last Fall, Anderson has been busy with expanding the Symphony Chips business from the internet and onto retail shelves, and all efforts are finally paying off thanks to the enormous support from Wayfield’s Board Member, Moses White. White, who facilitated the partnership between Wayfield Foods and Symphony Chips, showed his support by stopping by the Andersons’ display with his daughter Racquel White, CEO of Spherol.

“It’s motivating to have gained such a huge amount of support from not just Wayfield and their customers, but the community as a whole,” says Dondre Anderson. “There is a lack of diversity in the mainstream food industry and my daughters and I wish to increase the presence of black-business in the sector, even if only by a little. Our inclusion, we hope, will encourage others in the community to pursue commercial success, regardless of the lack of representation currently present.”

The Anderson Family stationed at their Symphony Chips display in Wayfield Foods on MLK Drive in Atlanta, Georgia

The Anderson Family stationed at their Symphony Chips display in Wayfield Foods on MLK Drive in Atlanta, Georgia

“I’m very proud to have this opportunity to introduce Symphony Chips to Wayfield Foods. Symphony Chips offers a gluten-free alternative with a gourmet taste. And supporting a minority, small business in our community where the owner Dondre Anderson includes his daughters Amina and Amari is divine order,” said Wayfield Foods Board Member Moses White. “Wayfield loves to support businesses from our community and encourages all of our customers to help make Symphony Chips a grand success.”

The idea for Symphony Chips began as a way to promote the Anderson Family’s primary business, All A’s Spices seasonings. As a base for potential buyers to sample the seasoning, homemade chips were used and were so well received that the family decided to establish a whole new product – Symphony Chips. Now Anderson is eager to increase the reach of these gluten-free, all-natural, low-sodium chips to low-income, health-conscious consumers as well as mainstream consumers across the country.

“I never expected that a little cooking in the kitchen with my daughters would turn into something much more than anticipated,” says Anderson. “Becoming one of the few black-owned potato chip businesses in the world is a grand honor, and I’m excited to have introduced my daughters to this level of entrepreneurship while during their youth.”

“Working a business with my dad and sister is really exciting,” says Amina, age 15. “It’s really cool to have gained such professional experience at this age, and I’m really excited about what the future holds for us. I bet it would look good on my resume!”

Could Immunotherapy Lead the Way to Fighting Cancer?

Hearing about the mass terrified her. Her own mother had died of breast cancer at the age of 56. From that point on, Miss Vanessa, then 40, became the matriarch of a large family that included her seven younger siblings and their children. Because she knew how it felt to have a loved one with cancer, she joined a church ministry of volunteers who helped cancer patients with chores and doctor visits. As she prepared meals for cancer patients too weak to cook for themselves, she couldn’t know that the disease would one day come for her, too.

The ER doctors told Miss Vanessa she wouldn’t get the results of follow-up tests—a colonoscopy and a biopsy—until after the July 4 weekend. She had to smile her way through her own 60th birthday on July 6, stoking herself up on medications for nausea and pain to get through the day.

At 9:30 the next morning, a doctor from the Greater Baltimore Medical Center called. He didn’t say, “Are you sitting down?” He didn’t say, “Is there someone there with you?” Later Miss Vanessa told the doctor, who was on the young side, that when he delivers gut-wrenching news by telephone, he should try to use a little more grace.

It was cancer, just as Miss Vanessa had feared. It was in her colon, and there also was something going on in her stomach. The plan was to operate immediately, and then knock out whatever cancer still remained with chemotherapy drugs.

Thus began two years of hell for Miss Vanessa and her two children—Keara, who is now 45, and Stanley Grade, 37—who live nearby and were in constant contact with their mother and her husband. The surgery took five hours. Recovery was slow, leading to more scans and blood work that showed the cancer had already spread to the liver. Her doctors decided to start Miss Vanessa on as potent a brew of chemotherapy as they could muster.

Every two weeks, Miss Vanessa underwent three straight days of grueling chemo, administered intravenously at her home. Keara and her two teenage sons came around often to help out, but the older boy would only wave at Miss Vanessa from the doorway of her bedroom as he rushed off to another part of the house. He just couldn’t bear to see his grandmother so sick.

Miss Vanessa powered on for 11 months, visualizing getting better but never really feeling better. Then, in July 2015, the doctor told her there was nothing more he could do for her.

“My mom was devastated,” Keara says. Keara told her mother not to listen to the doctor’s dire prediction. “I said to her, ‘The devil was a liar—we are not going to let this happen.’”

So Keara—along with Miss Vanessa’s husband, brother and brother’s fiancée—started Googling like mad. Soon they found another medical center that could offer treatment. But it was in Illinois, in the town of Zion—a name Miss Vanessa took as a good omen, since it was also the name of her 5-year-old grandson. In fact, just a few days earlier little Zion had asked his grandmother if she believed in miracles.

The family held a fund-raiser for Stanley to get on a plane to Chicago with his mother every two weeks, drive her to Zion and stay with her at the local Country Inn & Suites hotel for three days of outpatient chemotherapy. It felt like a replay of her treatment in Baltimore—worse, since the drugs were delivered in a hotel instead of in her bedroom, and the chemotherapy caused nerve damage that led to pain, tingling and numbness in Miss Vanessa’s arms and legs. And then, in May 2016, the Illinois doctor, too, said there was nothing more he could do for her. But at least he offered a sliver of hope: “Go get yourself on a clinical trial.” Weeks later, desperate, Miss Vanessa and Keara grew hopeful about a treatment involving mistletoe. They attended an information session at a Ramada extolling the plant extract’s anti-cancer properties. But when they learned that it would cost $5,000 to enroll, they walked out dejected.

Finally, Miss Vanessa’s husband stumbled onto a website for a clinical trial that seemed legit, something underway at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, just down the road from their home. This new treatment option involved immunotherapy, something markedly different from anything she had gone through. Rather than poisoning a tumor with chemotherapy or zapping it with radiation, immunotherapy kills cancer from within, recruiting the body’s own natural defense system to do the job. There are a number of different approaches, including personalized vaccines and specially engineered cells grown in a lab. (See “A Cancer Vaccine?” and “A DNA-Based Attack”)

The trial at Hopkins involved a type of immunotherapy known as a checkpoint inhibitor, which unlocks the power of the immune system’s best weapon: the T-cell. By the time Miss Vanessa made the call, other studies had already proved the value of checkpoint inhibitors, and the Food and Drug Administration had approved four of them for use in several cancers. The Hopkins researchers were looking at a new way of using one of those drugs, which didn’t work at all for most patients but worked spectacularly well for some. Their study was designed to confirm earlier findings that had seemed almost too good to be true.

“With the very first patient who responded to this drug, it’s been amazing,” says Dung Le, a straight-talking Hopkins oncologist with long dark hair and a buoyant energy. Most of her research had been in desperately ill patients; she wasn’t used to seeing her experimental treatments do much good. “When you see multiple responses, you get super-excited.”

When Miss Vanessa paid her first visit to Le in August 2016, the physician explained that not every patient with advanced colon cancer qualified for the trial. Investigators were looking for people with a certain genetic profile that they thought would benefit the most. It was a long shot—only about one person in eight would fit the bill. If she had the right DNA, she could join the trial. If she didn’t, she would have to look elsewhere.

About a week later, Miss Vanessa was in her kitchen, a cheery room lined with bright yellow cabinets, when her telephone rang. Caller ID indicated a Hopkins number. “I didn’t want anyone else to call you but me,” said the study’s principal investigator, Daniel Laheru. He had good news: her genes “matched up perfectly” with the criteria for the clinical trial. He told her to come in right away so they could get the blood work done, the paperwork signed and the treatment started. Miss Vanessa recalls, “I cried so hard I saw stars.”