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