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THE GIFT OF LIFE

Proton therapy is helping breast cancer patients have a new shot at life By Jessica Humphrey-Cintineo

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hen you hear the words "You have cancer," the shock can freeze you in place, or bring you to begin an unexpected journey. For Annette Pena, 48, of Ridgefield Park, that is exactly what she did. "When I was diagnosed, people said I took it much better than most people. They said, 'You always have a smile on your face and you go to work,'" said Pena, a wife and a mother of two children – a 13- and 20-year-old. Pena was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer on April 9, 2015. While taking a shower and self-examining, she found a lump. From there, she went to her primary doctor who sent her for an ultrasound. 12

Health, Beauty & Fitness

Spring 2016

"I had to make a decision – go to [my grandmother's] burial or my ultrasound," recalls Pena. Pena went to the ultrasound, where she learned she was HER-2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) positive. HER-2 positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. "I was told my tumor was very aggressive and growing very fast," Pena, a prekindergarten teacher in the Bronx, N.Y., said. Chemotherapy treatment – one of six rounds – started on May 1, 2015 followed by a mastectomy of her left breast in September. Somewhere along the way, Pena's research

BC the Mag Health, Beauty & Fitness Spring 2016  
BC the Mag Health, Beauty & Fitness Spring 2016