A year before her 40th wedding anniversary, Lori Benderson was diagnosed with 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 Lori and her husband, Randy, had heard about important advances in breast cancer treatment at Dana-Farber, and decided to travel from Florida to Boston to pursue an opinion. After meeting with Dana-Farber’s Dr. Eric Winer and the team, they learned that the Institute 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 five years after treatment. And she and Randy are so grateful for the care they received that they have donated $6 million to establish the Benderson Family Program for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer—the largest philanthropic donation to research for this disease at Dana-Farber. Their giving allows Dr. Winer and his team to continue providing exceptional care and expand their research, including efforts to identify new drug targets and design new clinical trials.

“We are confident that Dana-Farber will lead the way to lifesaving treatments for this relentless disease,” says Randy.

“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.” 

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