Breast Cancer Patient, Now Cancer-Free, Finds Strength Through Her Family

The drive from Plymouth, Massachusetts, to Raleigh, North Carolina, is about 750 miles. If you’re up for the drive, Jenn Anderson notes, plan on spending a lot of time on I-95 and consider extending the trip with a stopover in Delaware.

It’s a familiar route for Anderson, who was planning to move south with her family in 2015. However, two days before they were scheduled to leave, Anderson found a lump in her right breast. She soon learned she had stage II breast cancer.

Jenn and her husband, Glenn, were speechless. “I remember turning to my husband and asking, ‘Are you in the same nightmare that I’m in right now?’” Jenn remembers.

Anderson began treatment at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber under the care of Meredith Faggen, MD, medical director of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital.

The Anderson family.
The Anderson family.

“I remember the first person who came into the room said to me, ‘First of all, you’re going to be fine,’” recalls Anderson. “That was all we needed to hear.”

In the next 18 months, Anderson underwent four months of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, 33 radiation treatments, and reconstruction surgery. During all of it, Glenn said he felt helpless, but anytime uncertainty crept in, he returned in his mind to that first meeting at Dana-Farber.

The Anderson family.

“People would ask me, how do you feel—are you nervous?” says Glenn. “I’d tell them, ‘No she’s going to be fine. Jenn’s doctors said she was going to be fine, and if they said it, that’s it.’”

In January 2016, the promise was fulfilled: Anderson was cancer-free. To celebrate, the family visited Disney World, finally taking the trip they had always talked about. Their travels didn’t stop with Mickey Mouse; Anderson says her experience has made her say yes to trips she’s always wanted to enjoy—whether that’s hiking the Grand Canyon with her husband and two daughters or exploring Costa Rica.

“We were so lucky,” Anderson says. “Dana-Farber healed me, they took care of my family, and they put me back together.”

And as for completing that 750-mile trip to North Carolina one day, Anderson says relocating will have to wait. Her family is happy in Massachusetts, and there’s no place like home.

Hear the Andersons tell their story:

2 thoughts on “Breast Cancer Patient, Now Cancer-Free, Finds Strength Through Her Family”

  1. This beautiful, brave woman is my goddaughter.
    As a member of her family, I could not be more grateful for the care Jenn received at Dana-Farber.
    My prayers as well as those of the rest of my family, for Jenn and her family, were all answered.
    Thank you.

  2. Hello Jenn. Thank you for sharing your story. I am very happy for you that you made it through this and are ok. You have a wonderful and lovely family. You hit the nail on the head when you relate hearing the word “cancer” to the Big Bang Theory….everything DOES stop. I live in NJ. I was diagnosed at the end of 2013 with Stage I BC. My sister lives in Boston and, as an RN/Case Manager, is well connected to all of the major hospitals in the city. After having 2 surgical consults in NJ, my sister arranged for me to have a consult at Dana-Farber. It was a no-brainer the minute I walked into the building. I immediately felt that there was no other place to be. I could not believe that I met with my oncologist, Dr. Mayer, my surgeon, Dr. Susan Troyan, and radiologist, Dr. Pearce, within the hour and half that I was there. For the first time, I felt that I was going to be ok. Dr. Troyan performed my lumpectomy and it was determined that I only needed radiation and did not need chemo. Yea, “whew”. Because I live in NJ, I opted to have the radiation at CINJ in New Brunswick. I take the drive up to Boston (about 4.5 hours from where I live) once a year now to see Dr. Mayer and usually spend a couple of days with my sister in Manchester by the Sea. I am also followed by an oncologist at CINJ. (I know that’s unusual, but I want to stay connected to both facilities since I was treated at both). I’m sorry that this is so lengthy but I was so touched by your story and wanted to thank you for sharing it. Best to you and your family always.

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