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Danielle Harmon thought she was too young for cancer, but at age 31, she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer following a routine well-woman exam.

The mother of a 1-year-old boy, Sam, was shocked.

"I just cried and cried. I thought, 'I'm going to die ... I'm not going to see Sam grow up.'"

Danielle was concerned that her husband Jason would have to raise their son alone.

A Houston area resident, Danielle says her family felt blessed to live close to the best place for cancer treatment. Making an appointment at MD Anderson, she says, was a no-brainer.

"Immediately when you arrive at MD Anderson you get the feeling that these people are serious ... they know what they're doing. They make you feel like you have a fighting chance to survive the disease," she reflects.

Danielle's breast cancer treatment included a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, as well as six rounds of chemotherapy. "It wasn't an easy experience, but we got through it. I got a clean bill of health, and we were continuing on with our lives," she says.

An unexpected blessing from breast cancer
More devastating than the disease, though, was that that Danielle would not be able to have more children due to the need for long-term chemotherapy.

COHEN_FAMILY (2).jpgMonique Cohen was a healthy, busy mom of three when, in early 2011, she noticed a lump during a breast self-exam. A lumpectomy revealed it was benign, but a follow-up mammogram six months later found another breast lump.

"'You have cancer.' Those are the three worst words you'll ever hear in your life," she says. "The first question you ask is, 'Why?' I did everything I possibly could to stay healthy. I exercised regularly. It was not in my genetics. But the fact was that I had cancer and we needed to do what was necessary to eradicate it."

A neighbor told Monique to make an appointment at MD Anderson, a suggestion echoed by a family friend.

"It's the best care in the nation for cancer, and it's in our backyard," says the Austin, Texas resident. "When you're faced with a diagnosis as serious as cancer, why wouldn't you go to the best?"

Before traveling to Houston for Monique's first appointment, Monique and her husband Jamie shared the news of her breast cancer diagnosis with their children. 

"The hardest thing you ever have to do as a parent is to tell your children something like this," Monique says."You know it's going to be difficult for them and they're going to be scared, and as a parent and a mom, you're not supposed to do that to your kids. You're supposed to protect them."

Results from a report released today in a leading medical journal indicate that low dose daily aspirin reduces the risk of metastasis of several cancers. According to articles in The Lancet, the protective effect occurs within 3-5 years of beginning aspirin use.

Read more about the study in a post from our Cancer Frontline blog.

Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D, MD Anderson's provost and executive vice president and a professor of cancer biology and cancer medicine, shares his insights on the study's significance and addresses questions about aspirin dose, and how cancer patients should respond to this news.

Ronald DePinho, M.D., begins his presidency of MD Anderson today, Thursday, Sept. 1.

"To eliminate cancer around the world - what could be a more clear and noble mission? Cancer is a daunting foe and too many people still succumb to it. Your many discoveries and extraordinary advances in care have moved the entire field forward over the past 70 years, " DePinho said Thursday in a message to MD Anderson employees. "While much work remains in the lab, the clinic, the classroom, the community and the world, MD Anderson has the people, commitment and resources to conquer this dreaded disease. We will make that happen.

I intend to focus on where the greatest new opportunities lie for us, especially in basic science, in science-driven clinical care, and in education. And I will help you build upon the expertise, compassion and quality of our immense and unmatched clinical operation. I also will not shrink from the task of preparing MD Anderson for continued achievement in a challenging economic climate and era of health care reform."



DePinho is internationally recognized for basic and translational research in cancer, aging and age-associated degenerative disorders. He's the fourth full-time president of MD Anderson.

Learn more about DePinho's background and research.

DePinho succeeds John Mendelsohn, M.D., who remains on MD Anderson faculty, returning to clinical and translational research as co-director of a new Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.


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