Nature is an essential part of Jennifer Pierce’s life. At 48, she has worked as a ranger at some of America’s most treasured national parks. She loves educating visitors and hearing about their outdoor adventures. But in November 2020, while she worked at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, her life changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer after a screening mammogram.
“I received a call asking me to come back for more images. I had no family history of cancer. This was my first inkling that something was wrong,” she recalls. Although she lived almost two hours away from the hospital in Arizona, she made the long trek back to the doctor the next day for a follow-up. Then she was told she had cancer.
“In a twist of good fate, at the same time I learned I had cancer, I accepted a new job in Concord, Massachusetts. Relocating to a beautiful area renowned for its healthcare, and newly diagnosed — I knew I would find a great medical team to take care of me,” she reflects.
On the Right Trail
To set her up for success, Jennifer and her family researched all the cancer programs in the Greater Boston area. “My sister called and said, ‘You have to check out Emerson. It is right near Minute Man Park, has a great reputation, and is affiliated with Mass General.’ I knew it was going to be perfect,” Jennifer explains.
Soon after she moved from Arizona, she had an appointment with Uma Narayanasami, MD, a medical oncologist at the Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson – Bethke.
“Everyone I met was kind, reassuring, and had the experience to give me the care I needed. I was in great hands,” says Jennifer.
The Emerson team — including Dr. Narayanasami; Elizaveta Ragulin Coyne, MD, a breast surgeon; and John McGrath, MD, a Mass General radiation oncologist — consulted with Jennifer’s physician in Arizona and created a personalized care plan. Her treatment included surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy infusions, and radiation treatments — all at Emerson, close to her home.
“Our comprehensive breast health program puts patients at the heart of all we do to provide the latest and most advanced care with the best outcomes possible,” explains Dr. Ragulin Coyne. “The multidisciplinary team is experienced in the latest approaches. We take time to get to know our patients and create individualized treatment plans that best target specific cancers — while supporting their unique goals.”
The Power of Medicine…and Mother Nature
Today, Jennifer continues to enjoy her public service work in the community, grateful the cancer is gone. “I am very thankful everything worked the way it was supposed to. The Emerson team helped me understand the options and guided me through every step. I was confident in their approach.”
Her journey with cancer helped Jennifer appreciate her connection with the outdoors all the more. “I work in a beautiful place. I have a career I really enjoy where I help visitors discover awe-inspiring nature. The park is truly my healing place.”
For information about Emerson’s nationally accredited Comprehensive Breast Health Program and our affiliation with Mass General, visit emersonhealth.org/breasthealth.
3D Technology Provides Greater Precision
Emerson now has the Mozart System, giving surgeons greater precision in the operating room when removing breast cancer. Mozart uses the latest 3D imaging technology to provide a superior view of surgical margins and reduce the need for additional surgery. Patients benefit from keeping as much breast tissue as possible and a faster recovery.
Physical Therapy Helps People After Cancer Treatment
While cancer treatments save lives, they can leave patients tired and weak. Specially trained physical therapists at Emerson’s Clough Family Center for Rehabilitative Therapies help those recovering from cancer prevent and treat symptoms like chemo brain and lymphedema. Physical therapy also helps patients regain strength, reduce fatigue, and reclaim the best possible quality of life. For information, visit emersonhealth.org/cancerrehab.