Within a year of retiring from the Air Force in 2003, Corneliussen-James “C.J.” was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, joining one-in-eight American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Over the next 22 months, C.J. would undergo cancer treatment, be diagnosed with systemic lupus and, finally, metastatic breast cancer.
Thankfully, in recent decades, the United States has seen remarkable progress in the fight against breast cancer. Around the same time C.J. was diagnosed, the mapping of the human genome ushered in a new era of research aimed at saving lives and stopping cancer. In fact, the death rate for breast cancer alone has declined by 36 percent since the 1980s.
“I’m certain I would not be alive if it wasn’t for modern medicine,” C.J. says. “It’s important that every patient get the chance to survive longer.”
The number of cancer survivors like C.J. has been steadily rising in recent decades, and every treatment discovered extends that trend into the long-term. More than 800 medicines and vaccines are in development in the United States, signaling incredible progress in developing new treatments and cures.
Today, C.J. continues to defy expectations, thanks to modern medicine and innovative breakthroughs. She is a prime example of the impact of the lifesaving work being done by scientists and researchers across the country.