Living a Full Life after Inflammatory Breast Cancer

When Trish Vickery learned in 2013 that she had inflammatory breast cancer, she knew all too well the gravity of her diagnosis. Her mother had died from the disease.

Yet Vickery is living a full and energetic life — working, traveling, exercising, rowing on the Charles River in Boston, and spending time with her husband and young adult daughter and son.

“Today, doing well with this cancer is a reality,” says Vickery’s doctor Beth Overmoyer, MD, who directs the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program at Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers.

Overmoyer emphasizes that she and her colleagues at Dana-Farber understand the biology of the disease and can apply their knowledge and experience, offering state-of-the-art therapies.

“Inflammatory breast cancer comes on very suddenly and is more aggressive than other types of breast cancer,” she says. “It is very important to seek care, right away, from a cancer center that specializes in inflammatory breast cancer and understands the latest research and treatment.”

Vickery, 58, says that one of the luckiest days of her life was the day she walked into Dana-Farber.

“Dr. Overmoyer explained each step and cared about me as a person,” she recalls.

Beth Overmoyer, breast cancer, inflammatory
Beth Overmoyer confers with colleague Lynn Colicchio.

Because her cancer was HER2 positive, Vickery underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation, and treatment with Herceptin.

Vickery offers the following advice for anyone diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer:

  • Seek care from a team that specializes in this type of cancer and is up on the latest research.
  • Don’t Google it. The statistics are outdated and can be scary. Focus on you.
  • This will be a tough regimen. Take it one day at a time.
  • You can survive this.