Metastatic Breast Cancer: You Should Know
October brings fall weather and preparations for the impending holidays. It also brings a proliferation of pink, as ribbons and shirts and mugs and signs remind us of breast cancer awareness, and celebrate those who have been cured. For some, though, there is no cure.
There are “155,000 men and women in the United States who are living with metastatic breast cancer,” according to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. These are men and women for whom there is not a cure – who are faced daily with the struggle of living with this disease.
So what is metastatic breast cancer? It is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, to affect other vital organs, from the bones to the brain. Despite the challenges of facing an incurable illness, there is hope. The past five years have brought advances that can prolong the lives of those affected by this disease.
Today, on the 5th anniversary of Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, we’re fortunate to be hearing from two people who are part of the fight. Joining us today is Sharon Bozentka, mother of three, living with HER-2 positive breast cancer, and oncologist Dr. Marc Citron, to discuss the progress being made with EverydayFamily’s own Shiloh Johnson.
Dr. Marc Citron (NYC Physician) – Marc Citron M.D., is the Director of Cancer Services at ProHEALTH Care Associates. ProHEALTH is one of the largest integrated physician group practices in the New York Metropolitan Area with twenty locations throughout Long Island. Realizing the need for improved methods of treatment, Dr. Citron has dedicated his career to cancer research and therapy. He is nationally recognized for his innovative research in breast cancer and a diverse group of malignancies and is acknowledged as an authority in the treatment of cancer. Dr. Citron’s experience in clinical cancer care spans over 30 years. After completing medical school at Wayne State University and training in internal medicine at Georgetown University, Dr. Citron was promoted to Chief Medical Resident and later awarded the Daryl Rubenstein Fellowship in Medical Oncology at Georgetown’s Vincent Lombardi Cancer Center. Dr. Citron was Head of Long Island Jewish Medical Center's Medical Oncology Section for 13 years. In 1997 he became Chief of Oncology at ProHEALTH and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 2011 he became Clinical Professor of Medicine, Hofstra North-Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. In 2012 Dr. Citron was appointed Director of Cancer Services at ProHEALTH Care Associates.
Sharon Bozentka – 53 years old, Newtown Square, PA. Metastatic Breast Cancer – Sharon Bozentka was diagnosed with HER2-positive* metastatic breast cancer at just 52 years old. For the past 11 months she has been receiving a targeted therapy called Perjeta. Sharon considers herself very fortunate to have been diagnosed with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer the same week the treatment she receives, Perjeta, was approved by the FDA. She is currently cancer-free and has no evidence of disease. The former New York marketing executive relied on the love and support of her Italian family, including her husband and three children, a college student and two teenagers, to help her with the difficult news. Everyone pitched in to help, including friends who dropped off dinner and helped with the kids. Throughout her journey, Sharon has met many other women with breast cancer and has learned to draw strength from her friendships. Sharon recommends that other women develop their own support systems, whether it’s online or in person, and know “you are not alone – there are phenomenal support systems out there for you.”
* HER2-positive breast cancer is one form of breast cancer. Characterized by aggressive growth and a poor prognosis, it affects approximately 25 percent of women with breast cancer. Targeted treatment options in combination with chemotherapy are available for people with this form of the disease.