Care Team and Teammates Help Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Stay Strong

As a multi-sport athlete growing up, Allison Rebello loved being part of a team. Today, living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), she credits three teams for helping her stay active and optimistic in the face of an incurable but treatable disease. Rebello’s care team at Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and … Continued

Patient in Remission From Breast Cancer Mentors Other Patients

It’s impossible for Jenn Thompson to forget the low moments of her experience with cancer — her diagnosis, her hair falling out, and the sense that she lost a piece of herself. But now, more than five years after completing treatment, Thompson can say that these aren’t the memories that have defined her. “It wasn’t … Continued

Study Identifies Candidate Combinations for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

In their quest for effective targeted therapies to treat triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) — an aggressive disease that often doesn’t respond to standard chemotherapy — researchers at Dana-Farber and elsewhere have recently focused on the potential of drugs known as BET bromodomain inhibitors. BET inhibitors target a family of proteins including BRD2, BRD3, BRD4, and … Continued

What is a Lumpectomy?

There are many different treatment options available for breast cancer, including a type of surgery called a lumpectomy. While surgery can be anxiety-inducing, rest assured that lumpectomies are extremely safe and usually take no more than an hour. Here, Anna Weiss, MD, a breast surgeon in the Breast Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham … Continued

Surgical Nurse Stays on Shift During Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

As a nurse, Nadege Vilnaigre has devoted her professional life to helping those facing serious medical challenges. Her determination to stay on the job hasn’t waned — even in the face of her own experience with cancer. Vilnaigre is being treated at Dana-Farber for inflammatory breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in September 2019. … Continued

When Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a family of diseases with a variety of different subtypes, some of which are often treated with chemotherapy. The treatment a patient receives depends on a variety of factors, including the subtype and stage of the disease — how far it has advanced — as well as genetic factors, the presence of … Continued

Cancer Patient Faces Multiple Diagnoses with the Strength of a Warrior

One bout of cancer is enough to contend with, but since 2014 Mary Johnson has had to cope with four different cancers and related conditions. Despite these tests of her physical and emotional strength, Johnson is doing well today after treatment at Dana-Farber. “Coming to Dana-Farber gave me confidence because they supported me, and I … Continued

Focus is On Safety and Solidarity For Cancer Patients During COVID-19

Gina Solomon was in her office on March 10, worrying about the growing coronavirus pandemic, when the phone rang with news that quickly and dramatically shifted her concerns. Solomon, 55, learned she had HER2-positive breast cancer, a subtype of the disease that was as unfamiliar to her as COVID-19. In that instant, she went from … Continued

An Ode to Community During Cancer and Coronavirus

My journey with cancer began in February 2015 at the age of 24. My primary care doctor felt a lump in my left breast and life suddenly shifted from working, sports, and dating to doctor appointments, wig shopping, and hospital visits. It was a whirlwind of emotion and action. I underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation, … Continued

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Mom with Four Kids Finds Hope

When Yvonne Frazier was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019, she had three school-age children, a 2-year-old toddler, and a full-time job. She also had options. Lawrence General Hospital, where Frazier works, is 30 miles and an hour in traffic from the major cancer centers of Boston. It was next door, however, to a … Continued

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer: From a Sprint to a Marathon

When Kirsten Erlandsen was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2008, she approached her treatment like it was one of her road races. The mother of two knew that completing each treatment session brought her one stop closer to the “finish line” and her goal of becoming cancer-free. However, after a year of running … Continued

Young Investigators Use Patient Samples for Cancer Studies

In their search for better treatments for breast, ovarian, and other cancers, young investigators Jennifer Guerriero, PhD, and Sarah Hill, MD, PhD, rely on a precious commodity — patient tissue samples obtained by surgeons in Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. Studies of these normal and cancerous tissues, which are collected, banked, and … Continued

For Breast Cancer Patient, Positivity Is Everything

On a sunny July afternoon, Michelle Lemieux ran onto the field at Fenway Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during a Boston Red Sox home game. While the crowd of over 36,000 people continued to applaud as Lemieux ran back to her family, only a handful in attendance could truly appreciate what she … Continued

Study Implicates Failure of DNA Damage Repair in BRCA1 Breast Cancer

Medically reviewed by David Livingston, MD It’s been known for decades that a mutated BRCA1 gene in a woman’s breast cells sharply increases her lifetime risk of breast cancer. What has eluded scientists, however, is a detailed understanding of how the loss of BRCA1 function leads normal breast cells down the path to malignancy. Now, … Continued

A Cancer Researcher’s Personal Story

By Ellen Lori Weisberg, PhD The discovery of a lump came about as the result of a complete accident — a sweeping of my finger past a swelling as I mindlessly adjusted the ribbed shirt I was wearing during an otherwise mundane evening of television watching. My husband, a pediatrician, tried to reassure me that … Continued

Young Mom with Metastatic Breast Cancer Fights for Other Patients

Julia Maues was excited to find out she was pregnant — and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through chemotherapy and delivered a healthy baby boy, but shortly after the birth, she learned that the cancer had spread throughout her body. She would need lifetime of treatment for metastatic breast cancer. The … Continued

Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Comprehensive Guide

What is metastatic breast cancer? Metastatic breast cancer (also referred to as advanced stage or stage IV breast cancer) is breast cancer that has spread (or metastasized) from the breast and adjacent lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bones, brain, or liver. Why does breast cancer spread? Breast cancer … Continued

Is BRCA-Positive Breast Cancer Treated Differently From BRCA-Negative?

It can be overwhelming to learn that you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. About 5 to 10% percent of women with breast cancer have an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which puts them at greater risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers. For most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, having … Continued

Questions for Your Oncologist When You’re Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Learning that you have breast cancer can be overwhelming. In the shock of a diagnosis, it may be hard to organize your thoughts or plan out your questions. But those questions are important, and there are likely to be many of them. The answers will have an impact on your treatment and the preparations you … Continued