A young woman in her prime, with a full life and meaningful career, does not expect a cancer diagnosis. But that is what happened to 34-year-old Erin, who received the news when she was in Paris with her mother and sister, on a long-awaited trip to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Before she left, she had felt a lump in her right breast, and underwent several screening tests. When her doctor called her in Paris to say she had breast cancer, he referred her to the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.
Here, Erin started treatment with what she calls her “dream team,” tapping the latest research and a full circle of care and support.
Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at the Susan F. Smith Center, recommended a lumpectomy in the AMIGO suite (Advanced Multimodality Image-Guided Operating Suite) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber’s partner in care.
Erin was part of a phase I study, led by Golshan. The study is the first of its kind to look at the role of intraoperative MRI in evaluating margins in real-time.
Following her surgery, with clear margins and no cancer in her lymph nodes, Erin’s medical oncologist Harold Burstein, MD, PhD ordered an OncoType DX assay on her tumor. This test, which scores the likelihood of recurrence, showed she would not need chemotherapy.
But since her cancer was estrogen-positive she would take tamoxifen, an estrogen-suppressing pill, for at least five years. During this time pregnancy is not recommended, so she underwent an egg retrieval so she could freeze her eggs for the future.
Next, with radiation oncologist Julia Wong, MD, Erin received four weeks of daily whole breast radiation and two weeks of targeted radiation to the surgery site.
Today, she has returned to her job in a public health consulting firm in Boston, where she worked throughout treatment.
“Erin is a remarkable young woman with a very bright future ahead of her,” says Golshan. “We’re hopeful this will be a distant chapter for her, and that we will continue to see her in good health.”