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No Stopping This Team


Dr. Dineli Ahearn and her primary care patient, Alicia Staley.AT JUST 45 YEARS OLD, CHARLESTOWN RESIDENT ALICIA STALEY has already beaten cancer three times. First diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a sophomore in college, she was successfully treated at a hospital in upstate New York. She moved to Boston in 1994 and chose her primary care physician (PCP) and oncologist at Tufts Medical Center. Ten years later, a mammogram revealed bad news: she had breast cancer.

Q: What was it like to learn that your cancer had returned?

A: It was April 1st, 2004—April Fool’s Day—and what was supposed to be a routine mammogram screening for secondary cancer from my Hodgkin’s suddenly became a breast cancer diagnosis. I underwent successful treatment at Tufts Medical Center, but the breast cancer came back in late 2007, and I had a bilateral mastectomy. My PCP, Dr. Dineli Ahearn, and oncologist, Dr. Kellie Sprague, supported me through both cancers and have been so caring.

Q: How are you doing now?

A: I’ve been cancer-free since the surgery. I still do check-ins at the Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center once a year, and see Dr. Ahearn for my other care, but I’m better than ever.

Q: Why have you stayed loyal to Tufts Medical Center for more than 20 years?

A: I feel like everyone is invested in me. When I was diagnosed the second time, I remember Dr. Sprague reassuring me, saying, “We’re going to figure this out,” and treating me in a way that respects and empowers me as a patient. I’ve had opportunities to seek care elsewhere, but I always come back to Tufts Medical Center. Everyone goes above and beyond, from the doctors and nurses to the people who clean the rooms. They’re amazing.

Q: You have an active blog and Twitter following. How has that helped you during your treatments and recovery?

A: It’s really helped to share my story online and connect with other cancer survivors going through the same experiences. It’s not every day that you can do that. I like to think it’s a two-way community. I feel like I learn as much as I give. And I’ve learned a lot.

Visit or call 617-987- 4345 to learn more about Tufts MC Cancer Center. And you can follow Alicia on Twitter at @stales.