"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years, I was only 63 years old. The news, as I’m sure is the case with most people who receive a life-threatening diagnosis, came as a terrible shock. Initially, doctors weren’t even sure it was cancer. But since my mammogram showed calcifications that my doctor found suspicious, I was sent to Dr. John Kehoe, a highly esteemed breast surgeon at Beth Israel, for a biopsy. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was cancer. When I heard this, it was like falling into an emotional abyss and for a while, I just stopped thinking. I didn’t have a single question to ask to my doctors. But later, as the questions did arise, Dr. Kehoe and Dr. Stephen Malamud were always available, ready to answer them.
Together with Dr. Kehoe, we decided my best course of action was to proceed with a radical mastectomy. Following surgery, more devastating news – I was told the cancer was stage 3, which meant it had spread to a number of nearby lymph nodes. For the next phase of treatment, I consulted with Dr. Stephen Malamud, who identified my cancer as being HER2-positive, which meant that it contained a protein known as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Knowing this was crucial, because cancers that are HER2-positive tend to be more aggressive and require targeted therapies.
Dr. Malamud put me on a promising two-drug protocol featuring a combination of drugs that were tailored to my particular disease. Since new scans showed that the cancer had spread, there was no time to waste. I started treatments in late September and before the end of October, the lumps were shrinking. I thought to myself, “Oh my, the regimen is working!” By January, I heard words that were music to my ears. Dr. Kehoe told me “you don’t have cancer anymore.” Hearing this news was a tremendous gift. I had just witnessed the birth of my newest grandchild and now I had hope that I was going to be there to see her grow up.
I will be forever grateful for the superior medical care I received at Beth Israel but most importantly, I am thankful for the whole approach of the medical team because it gave me hope, something that is so crucial in fighting cancer and in life itself."