A year before her 40th wedding anniversary, Lori Benderson was diagnosed triple-negative breast cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer affects only 10-15 percent of all breast cancer patients, and is found more often in women under 40 and in those who are of African-American or Hispanic heritage. Unlike other forms of breast cancer, which have estrogen, progesterone or HER2 receptors that can be targeted with chemotherapy, triple-negative cancer, as the name suggests, has none of those receptor targets. It is also usually more aggressive than these other tumors.
With no specific receptor target, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can be less effective and often result in significant side effects.
But a number of years ago, a young family member had received lifesaving care at Dana-Farber, and so Lori and her husband Randy decided that she should pursue an opinion at DFCI. After meeting with Dana-Farber’s Dr. Eric Winer and the team, they realized that Dana-Farber was pioneering numerous clinical trials to test new treatments, including immunotherapy and PARP inhibitors, to overcome the hurdles posed by her particular cancer.
Hopeful for the future, Lori’s treatment was not easy – but her 40th wedding anniversary became an extra-special occasion. She remains cancer free (how long after treatment). And she and her husband Randy are so grateful for the care she received that they have donated $5 million to establish the Benderson Family Program for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer – the largest philanthropic donation to research for this disease at Dana-Farber.
“We are confident that Dana-Farber will lead the way to a cure for this relentless disease,” says Randy Benderson.
“Many women diagnosed with this form of breast cancer will do very well with existing treatments,” says Winer, Chief of the Division of Breast Oncology in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Faculty Advancement and Thompson Chair in Breast Cancer Research. “But there are still far too many women with this diagnosis who urgently need new and better treatments. Thanks to the Benderson Family, our researchers will build on what we already know about this disease and help many more women with it Defy Cancer.”