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Patient Stories: First-Hand Accounts from Patients with Inflammatory Breast Cancer

  • Caroline: Spreading the Word About Inflammatory Breast Cancer

    Caroline McGuirk

    "This is a part of my life I would like to go away — I know it can’t, so I’m creating a new vision of what my life will look like that includes spreading the word."

    Caroline McGuirk, diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), is committed to teaching others that there is more than one symptom of breast cancer. When she noticed redness and swelling in her right breast, she didn’t think much of it until two lumps appeared a few months later.

    "My breast was swelling so subtly that I didn’t notice it at first," she recalls. "About a month later, my skin on that breast began changing, with some redness and dimpling in places. Because I was 31 and healthy, I never imagined it was cancer."

    Caroline underwent 20 weeks of chemotherapy, a modified radical right-side mastectomy with lymph node removal, and six weeks of radiation at Dana-Farber, away from her work in southern California. Her sister Katie, a former employee at Dana-Farber, was a major source of support.

    Learn more about Caroline’s journey with IBC and her commitment to raising awareness.

    Nadege: A Nurse Staying on Shift During Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

    Patient Nadege Vilnaigre and her family

    "I'm not going to let this diagnosis take over my life and keep me from making a difference in the lives of others."

    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 inflammatory breast cancer.

    "I believe I've always been a compassionate nurse, but now I see myself as a different person because of what I've been through," says Nadege.

    By responding in this way, Nadege — whose own stepmother was also a nurse — has set an example for her twin daughters. High school seniors during their mother's first year living with cancer, Kalina and Katrina share a goal of becoming the third generation of nurses in the family. Like their mom, they have a good role model.

    Learn more about Nadege's journey with IBC and how it has deepened her commitment to her patients.

    Watch Nadege tell her story on WCVB News Center 5.

  • Lynda and Ellen: Spreading the Love

    Patient Lynda Perry, her wife Ellen Thomas, with Beth Overmoyer, MD, FACP

    "It's all about education – educating people and professionals about identifying and treating IBC. And for them, it’s also about love."

    Love and commitment have enabled Lynda and Ellen Thomas to get through Lynda’s diagnosis and treatment for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). As Lynda continues to fight, she and her wife Ellen reach out to fellow patients and caregivers on social media, appear on local news broadcasts, and have lobbied for Massachusetts to declare a state-wide Inflammatory Breast Cancer Awareness Week for the past three years.

    Read more about Lynda and Ellen's dedication to sharing information about IBC.

    Trish: Living a Full Life after Inflammatory Breast Cancer

    Trish Vickery

    "One of the most important things I learned is that I can survive this. I actually do more than I did before, which seems impossible. I feel terrific!"

    When Trish Vickery was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2013, she knew all too well the gravity of her disease. Having lost her mother to the same diagnosis, she was committed to not letting it define her.

    "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."

    Learn about Trish's journey with IBC and how she continues living a full and energetic life.

    About Our Patient Stories

    Dana-Farber shares patient stories which may include descriptions of actual medical results. Dana-Farber provides personalized care for each patient based on their unique needs; their experiences and results will vary.

    Next: Learn about our Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program contact and referral information
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  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program Patient Forum

    The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program hosted its 6th Annual Patient Forum in April 2023. Presentations included patient-care-focused scientific information in the field of inflammatory breast cancer for patients, families, and loved ones. Check back for information about the 2024 forum.

    View forum recordings