Shortly after she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, Duncan Finigan met with her oncologist, Eric Winer, MD, at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.
“I can’t deal with this ‘stage’ thing,” Finigan told him right away.
In response, Winer said Finigan didn’t have to refer to her disease as “stage IV.” Instead, he told her she had a “treatable, non-curable condition.”
Finigan felt the weight of the world lift off her shoulders.
“While [metastatic breast cancer] is something that is ultimately life-threatening, it is a very treatable condition,” says Winer, who is the director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center. “There is a lot of research going on and there is almost a certainty that we’re going to have new drugs available during the course of [Duncan’s] lifetime – the treatments we have today may not even be a fraction of what we have five or ten years from now.”
That advice, Finigan says, has allowed her to put her diagnosis into perspective and live life to the fullest.
“When I face a problem, my cancer has given me the opportunity to step away and say, ‘Does it really matter? Is it that big of a deal in your life?’” she says. “Or, I can just enjoy my life, get what I need to get done, and move on.”
Hear Finigan’s story by listening to the podcast episode below or click “download” to listen later. Subscribe options are also available via iTunes, Google Play, the Stitcher app, TuneIn app, and RSS.
The Voices podcast series features stories from cancer patients who share their experiences coping with their life-changing diagnoses and treatment. Season 1 of Voices features breast cancer patients. Visit the Voices page for more episodes and Dana-Farber’s podcast page for more information on other cancer podcast series.
Duncan Finigan passed away peacefully surrounded by her family in 2019.