Breast Cancer Patient Noted In The Sun Dies

Anne Sipel, 44, Was Part Of Hopkins Vaccine Trial

December 08, 2009|By Kelly Brewington | Kelly Brewington ,

Anne Sipel, whose battle with breast cancer led her to participate in an experimental vaccine trial at Johns Hopkins that was chronicled in a Baltimore Sun series, died Friday. She was 44.

Sipel, an optimistic woman of enormous energy and strong religious convictions, spent the last year of her life crisscrossing the country seeking new cancer treatments and making friends along the way, said her husband, Cory Sipel.

Since her diagnosis of advanced breast cancer in 2006, through the cancer's spread to her liver, and until her death at her home in Minneola, Fla., she had tried Chinese herbs, restrictive diets and a series of contraptions she believed would kill pathogens in her body with audio frequencies and then restore her energy pathways.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Tuesday's editions misspelled the name of the patient who took part in a Johns Hopkins cancer vaccine trial and died Friday. Her name was Anne Siple. The Sun regrets the error.

Sipel learned of the Hopkins vaccine trial, led by Dr. Leisha Emens, through a network of cancer patients she relied on through her treatment. She said she was drawn to the trial because she believed it allowed her to use the power of her own body to fight the cancer.

The trial never promised a cure. Rather, it was a long shot, tested on the sickest of patients, intended to lay the groundwork for a vaccine to prevent breast cancer. While much progress has been made on the breast cancer front, once the disease spreads, there is no cure.

Over the course of her illness, Sipel had been treated by countless doctors at seven cancer centers nationwide, running up thousands of dollars in credit card bills in a search for someone who would appeal to her determination to live through alternative therapy and most importantly, offer hope.

"Since I have been diagnosed with breast cancer, I haven't had a bad day," she told The Sun last year. "I have always been a positive person, but this takes you to a level where you totally become a better person."

She dropped out of the Hopkins vaccine trial in 2008 because her cancer was progressing too fast, said her husband.

"She just had this drive, this endless optimism," Cory Sipel said Monday in an interview from his Florida home.

Before her diagnosis, Sipel was the picture of health, biking, hiking and eating well, her husband said. The couple took hiking trips to Colorado, Washington and twice to Alaska. She was chatty, and thrived on the physical labor of a waitressing job at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.

Born Anne Marie Kingsbury in Buffalo, N.Y., Annie, as she was known, married young, had two children, Christopher Cummings and Jeremy Cummings, and later divorced. She married Cory Sipel in 2005, two years after meeting him at a Jehovah's Witness church gathering.

Along with her husband and sons, Sipel is survived by her mother, Rita Denman, of Lakeland, Fla; her father Robert DeGroat, of Haines City, Fla.; two sisters, Kari Fenton and Theresa Taylor, both of Haines City; and a brother, Brian DeGroat, of Auburndale, Fla. Funeral services will be held Saturday at Minneola City Hall.

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