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How Women and Wellness event is changing the fight against cancer

RICHMOND, Va. -- For 22 years, it's been more than just a luncheon. The Women and Wellness event, benefiting VCU Massey Cancer Center, brings in thousands of dollars. Money that stays in Central Virginia to pay for research and clinical trials.

"Without the money we could never be able to do all the studies that go on here," Dr. Harry Bear, head of surgical oncology at Massey, said.

On any given day, about 100 trials are going on at Massey.

About 20 of them are for breast cancer alone.

Last year's luncheon brought in $225,000 to help cover those expensive trials.

"Even when we do trials that are funded by the National Cancer Institute or industry, they never cover the entire cost of the staff and the expenses of doing the trial," Dr. Bear said.

In the labs, one of the trials is looking at how a person's own immune system can fight breast cancer. Another trial, called precision oncology, is looking at the link between a person's genetic makeup and breast cancer.

Dr. Bear said treating patients over the years has changed dramatically due to those studies and trials and that has led to changes in radiation, chemo, and hormonal therapies.

"We're doing less mastectomies than we did in the past. We don't have to remove lymph nodes we did in the past. We can be selective about lymph node sampling," Dr. Bear said.

At this year's luncheon the keynote speaker is Dr. Jackie Walters. She can be seen on the TV show, "Married to Medicine." She's also a two time breast cancer survivor.

The Women and Wellness luncheon is Tuesday February, 7, at the Jefferson Hotel. The luncheon is sold out.