Laura, Leigh Anne and Jennifer
Laura Frank and Leigh Anne Best are the founders of Brakes for Breasts. For 12 years and counting, their grassroots campaign has rallied auto-repair shops across North America to raise critical funding for the development of a vaccine that aims to eventually prevent triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Laura and Leigh Anne are 1921 Society inductees.
Jennifer Davis is a mother of three and a registered nurse. She was the first person to participate in a novel study at Cleveland Clinic for the breast cancer vaccine, based on research led by the late Vincent Tuohy, PhD, who held the Mort and Iris November Distinguished Chair in Innovative Breast Cancer Research, and funded by Brakes for Breasts and other donors.
LEIGH ANNE: Group hug?
JENNIFER: Of course!
Laura, Leigh Anne and Jennifer embrace.
JENNIFER: I’ve never heard the backstory. Why did you decide to raise money for this?
LAURA: Cancer affects so many people. My mom. My brother. Leigh Anne’s dad. When somebody you love is diagnosed … you’re not the doctor. You can’t design the protocol. So what do you do to help and to make a difference?
LEIGH ANNE: Laura and I were thinking, “How can we change the world?” We like to think big. We’re really proud of our industry. We’re super-thankful because we’re just two girls who put this out to the universe and said, “Hey, everybody — do you want to get on board?”
JENNIFER: I am so thankful to both of you for staying the course.
LAURA: I think about Dr. Tuohy. All the hurdles. All the walls he ran into. And he just kept going. We’re very grateful for that.
JENNIFER: Me too. I’m sad that I didn’t get to meet him.
LAURA: I’m sure he would’ve wanted to meet you, too. He was one of a kind.
LEIGH ANNE: Beyond intelligent, yet humble. And so full of gratitude himself. We just knew: This is our guy, and this is our cause.
In 2018, Jennifer was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease. She had chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and 26 rounds of radiation. She enrolled in the vaccine trial in 2021.
JENNIFER: You had to be in remission, and you had to be no more than three years out from your first chemo treatment. It was a race against the clock. I desperately wanted to be part of something.
LEIGH ANNE: When Laura and I heard that the first woman was vaccinated, it was like, “Wow. That’s what we’re doing. That’s what it’s for.”
LAURA: We’re grateful for you to take that step. That’s huge, to step into the unknown like that.
JENNIFER: I wasn’t scared. There were three doses, one every two weeks.
LEIGH ANNE: You didn’t get sick? No rash? Nothing?
LAURA: It sounds like it was actually the easiest of everything you went through.
JENNIFER: I’m thankful for you. You’ve had a part in saving my life. I was only 41 [when the original diagnosis was made], so the chance of it coming back would’ve been pretty great. Now I don’t think about it coming back.
LAURA: That’s awesome.
LEIGH ANNE: It’s like you can live.
JENNIFER: And boy, do I.
LEIGH ANNE: My dad always said, “Leave the world a better place.”
JENNIFER: Yes! Both of you have done that.