It is common knowledge that breast cancer strikes one in four women, but RSF’s Doreen Roohanipur never suspected she would become a statistic.
Roonhanipur is a nurse, her husband a surgeon. She lives a very healthy lifestyle; exercises daily, doesn’t drink alcohol, and eats a healthy diet, but on Aug. 1 her life changed dramatically. After receiving some upsetting news, Roohanipur decided to go shopping to lift her spirits. It was during this shopping trip that she discovered a lump in her breast. Roohanipur was, however, not particularly concerned since her annual mammograms had always been negative, but she decided to go see her doctor anyway. Once again, the mammogram was negative, but an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed that she had the dreaded C word — breast cancer; a malignant tumor with lymph node involvement.
Roonhanipur, full of pep and vigor, a fireball who hails from Las Vegas, dived right into researching every aspect of her cancer. What does HER2 mean, what’s a triple positive, who’s the best surgeon, oncologist, best treatment facility... her due diligence did not cease.
Muffy Walker, a friend since Roohanipur moved here nine years ago, recently lost her mother to breast cancer. She remembers her mom being told to surround herself with friends, think positively, and imagine little Pacmen running around her body eating the cancer cells. Walker decided to host a Pink Party in support of Roonhanipur.
Twenty-five ladies, all dressed in pink, attended a luncheon at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. Carmen McCormick adorned the tables with pink ribbon confetti, pink balloons, and heart boxes filled with pink candies. She brought a pink boa for Roonhanipur to wear and bright pink glow stick necklaces for the guests. The centerpieces were beautiful pink roses, thanks to tennis buddy Pam Spain (who also lost her mom to breast cancer).
After lunch, Dr. Sara Courtneidge, a scientist from the Sanford|Burnham Medical Research Institute, spoke to the ladies about the statistics and risk factors associated with breast cancer and then shared her research. Courtneidge is particularly interested in how cancer cells move and spread around the body. She has been studying the role of finger-like projections called invadopodia that are made by cancer cells, and which promote the ability of cancer cells to metastasize. Her laboratory is undertaking a molecule analysis of these structures. She is also using the high throughput screening resources of the Institute to identify and validate molecular targets in invadopodia. The goal is to define novel therapeutic points of intervention for the treatment of metastatic disease.
Courtneidge’s contributions to cancer research have been recognized with numerous honors, including election to the European Molecular Biology Organization (1990), the Jubilee Lecture and Harden Medal of the British Biochemical Society (2001) and the Feodor Lynen Lecture and Lynen Medal (2005).
Roonhanipur has undergone a right modified radical mastectomy and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Following the chemo regime, that will end in mid January, she will begin three months of daily radiation and have a left modified radical mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery.
Roonhanipur remains optimistic about her future and is fortunate to have a huge support team in place who have been instrumental in keeping her spirits lifted and motivated to fight this cancer battle.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; get your mammograms, do monthly self-breast exams and immediately report any suspicious findings to your health care provider. For more information about breast cancer, go to: