When Tammy Viera discovered a lump in her breast three years ago, she wasn't initially worried.
"I have a history of fibrocystic breast disease and it was just one of those things that never went away and it really should've, so that prompted me to take further action," she said.
After conducting a biopsy, doctors found a second cancerous mass.
After undergoing surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, Viera agreed to participate in a trial involving an anti-bone cancer drug.
"I am one of the test subjects because it is so close to something you develop with breast cancer, they want to try and head that off," she said.
Dr. Carmen Calfa says clinical researched participants like Tammy deserve credit for helping develop targeted cancer treatments.
"They only target the cells that need to be killed, and they have a lot of less toxicity for the normal cells," said Calfa.
Trials begin in a pre-clinical phase on animals to determine if the drugs work as intended. Next, phase one human trials determine the potential for toxicity. Phase two trials look at how effective a drug is and how well it's tolerated. Phase three trials compare the study medication to the existing standard of care.
"The research is actually very important because you don't have one brain look at the patient results -- you have hundreds of people checking to make sure everything is done properly, and they (the patients) feel very secure and very safe," said Calfa.
"I really wanna do whatever I can to make a difference, to help people," said Viera. "Not everybody may be as lucky as me."