The correspondent’s non-profit aims to develop a vaccine by bringing together cancer experts.
Kristen Dahlgren announced Tuesday she will leave NBC News to start the Pink Eraser Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a breast cancer vaccine. The correspondent’s own experience inspired her mission with breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2019.
Dahlgren, 50, explained on Today’s website that the Pink Eraser Project will bring together experts from Memorial Sloan-Kettering, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Cleveland Clinic, UW Medicine’s Cancer Vaccine Institute, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to work on developing a vaccine.
An estimated 43,000 people will die from breast cancer this year. @kristendahlgren reports on the race to develop vaccines for cancer, the deeply personal project ‘The Pink Eraser Project’ and the reason behind her decision to leave NBC News. pic.twitter.com/w7r0zoPubr
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 30, 2024
“If I have learned anything in my decades as a journalist it is that one person really can change the world,” she wrote. “Of course, it is much more effective if it becomes a movement with everyone behind it.”
“As a survivor I know first-hand that current treatments are difficult and have a lasting impact on your body,” says Dahlgren, whose daughter, Cielle, is seven.
“I will likely never feel my little girl cuddling into my chest. Lifting my right arm is often restricted and painful. Radiation has left me with lung fibrosis, and the scars cut across my chest and abdomen are constant reminders.” American Cancer Society statistics show that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women under 50.
“Our goal is to build a pool of breast cancer survivors to help spread the word about joining trials, work with other institutions doing breast cancer vaccine research, and to partner with the hundreds of amazing support organizations that have been lifting up breast cancer patients and supporting research for years,” Dahlgren explained in her essay.
She continued, “I know we are closer to a day when those who have the disease — or those at high risk of developing it — could choose a vaccine that instructs their own body to kill the cancer. I believe we’re on the cusp of having technology to make that safe, effective and affordable for everyone who wants it.”
The Cleveland Clinic announced its phase 1 breast cancer vaccine trial in 2021, and the Mayo Clinic reported in 2019 that a Florida woman who participated in a trial had recovered from breast cancer.
“Vaccines could be the way to give everyone a chance at survival,” Dahlgren wrote. “That is what the Pink Eraser Project is all about. It’s a chance to erase breast cancer as a fatal disease and, someday, this could lead to vaccines for other cancers as well.”