By Bella Pelletiere
“I did not face any major obstacles during my treatment and I have to give credit to my dad for that, Anne said. “He was an incredible role model during his heroic battle with throat cancer. He always had a positive attitude and never gave up so I tried to honor his memory by staying positive."
Anne Finucane’s mother, cousin, and paternal aunt all had breast cancer. So when Anne was diagnosed, she admitted she wasn’t surprised.
“My father had passed away several years earlier after battling throat cancer for three years so I was very in tune about the impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on a family,” she said.
She was 46 years old in 2013 when she went to her annual mammogram, and was told she had early signs of breast cancer.
After having many conversations with her friends, who had also dealt with breast cancer, Finucane decided to have a lumpectomy. Lumpectomy is a surgery to remove cancer from the breast. Unlike mastectomy, lumpectomy removes only the tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it. Unfortunately, after the surgery, Anne’s surgeon found another area in her breast with DCIS. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) means the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast have become cancer, but they have not spread into surrounding breast tissue. DCIS is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer.
“I then needed to decide whether I wanted to have a mastectomy in my other breast as well even though there were no signs of DCIS. After careful consideration, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy with same day reconstruction,” said Finucane.
A bilateral mastectomy is the removal of both breasts.
“My surgery took place at the end of April. Shortly after my surgery, I received the good news that I would not need follow up radiation or chemotherapy. My margins were clear and my sentinel node was clear. I was told my recovery would take around six weeks so I envisioned that exactly six weeks later I would feel like myself again. I think I was a little unrealistic,” she said.
Although the journey throughout her diagnosis and surgery was difficult, Anne had the amazing supportive network of family, friends, and co-workers.
“Without them, our journey would have been a lot more difficult,” Anne said.
While working as a part time preschool teacher, Anne was attending a program that Mass General Hospital set up for her. It was called the PACT program, which provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.
“I did not face any major obstacles during my treatment and I have to give credit to my dad for that," she said. “He was an incredible role model during his heroic battle with throat cancer. He always had a positive attitude and never gave up so I tried to honor his memory by staying positive.”
Anne advises women to keep up with their annual mammograms. She also recommends being open about breast cancer diagnoses.
“When I was diagnosed, I was very private about my news and did not want a lot of people to know. I regret that I wasn’t more open about my diagnosis because I know there are so many people out there who would have been willing to support me by sharing their own experiences with breast cancer,” Anne said. “I think hearing others stories can help provide inspiration and hope. I would encourage women to continue to share their stories.”