In the beginning of his 34th year of teaching, Alan began feeling extremely tired and having difficulty breathing. He was diagnosed with T cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer that originates in blood cells called T cells. Initial treatment put his cancer into remission, but only for a few months. He then came to Memorial Sloan Kettering to receive an experimental chemotherapy drug followed by a stem cell transplant.
At age 28, Caitlin, a receptionist living in Queens, faced a daunting decision: Should she have her breasts removed to slash her risk of developing breast cancer down the road? She’d inherited a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that made her much more likely than other women to develop breast and ovarian cancer. The surgery may not be the right choice for all women with this mutation, notes Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Mary Gemignani. But for Caitlin, it clearly was.