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Highlights • Allegheny Health Network

Emily Parise and her daughter, Josie

"Dr. Buchbarker, the doctors and the whole team saved my life," said Emily.

For Emily: Life-saving cancer treatment

Two weeks after celebrating her 29th birthday, Emily Parise discovered a lump in her breast. Next came the biopsy, and two days later, Emily was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. "The very first thing I thought about was my daughter—and that fear of having to stop life to be treated," said Emily. Her daughter, Josie, was just two years old at the time.

Soon after her breast cancer diagnosis, Emily’s doctors also discovered a brain tumor caused by Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that increases a person’s chances of developing cancers and tumors at a young age.

It was a complex case. But the oncologists at the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer Institute, led by Dr. Diane Buchbarker, stood up to the challenge—as did Emily. Her treatment began with five months of preliminary chemotherapy to shrink the breast tumor. Surgeons then performed a double mastectomy, followed by another regimen of chemotherapy that concluded in June 2015. She'll be on an estrogen blocker for ten years to prevent the growth of new breast cancer. The brain tumor is being monitored and hasn’t required treatment.

Emily says she’s grateful for the state-of-the-art cancer care available close to home, and to AHN's team of multi-disciplinary specialists who got her diagnosis right. And most of all, Emily's grateful that she’s finally back to full strength, and showing no evidence of cancer.

"Dr. Buchbarker [is] a genius, in my opinion, for deciding to test me for this syndrome," Emily said. "Dr. Buchbarker, the doctors and the whole team saved my life."

Across the network every year, AHN treats thousands of patients challenged by cancer. And through outreach efforts such as free community cancer screenings, AHN works to prevent cancers or detect them early. After just four screening events in 2015—which test for cervical, breast, colorectal, prostate, lung, skin, and head and neck cancers—volunteer physicians screened 1,366 patients, and more than 262 abnormalities were detected, requiring treatment or further exams.

At AHN, getting health care right means catching cancers early, diagnosing them accurately and providing patients like Emily with the right care at the right time in the right health care setting.


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