The Lahey Cancer Institute, serving a wide range of patients across Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC), Lahey Medical Center, Peabody, Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals, and Winchester Hospital, has a strong history as a leader in cancer treatment and research. With continued advancements made possible by philanthropy, the institute’s multidisciplinary team is building on that legacy to better treat and diagnose cancers, increase the number of patients served, and provide holistic, compassionate care. LHMC employee Sara O’Brien, RD, understands Lahey’s deep commitment to caring for the whole person. Her first-ever role as a dietitian was working in the medical intensive care unit at LHMC—for 11 years.
Sara is an avid participant in the Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run. The popular event is an opportunity for participants to come together in support of patients and families impacted by cancer—and raise critical funds for the Lahey Cancer Institute. A lifelong competitive runner, she won the 5K’s women’s division three months before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. “It was strange to go from a fundraiser to someone people were fundraising for,” says Sara, sharing that the Lahey community’s support was a positive force during a difficult time in her life. “I took part in the event before my diagnosis because I believe in supporting our patients and our community,” says Sara. “After my diagnosis, participating in the Lahey 5K was a way to encourage myself and others to keep fighting.”
Today, Sara is celebrating a special milestone. March 2023 marks the end of her 10-year cancer treatment. Her therapeutic regimen was a brand-new science when she started, and she benefitted greatly from Lahey presenting this treatment option to her. “I had to trust my doctors and leave it in their hands, which I did,” says Sara, who will be participating in the Lahey 5K on June 11, 2023. “The clinical team helped me stay in a spot where I could still enjoy my life, all the while receiving a state-of-the-art new treatment. I am so thankful for that.”
Looking to the future, the Lahey Cancer institute’s goal to advance clinical research and treatment options continues. “As a part of the 13-hospital system, we are actively integrating cancer services to improve patients’ access to novel therapies like the one Sara received,” says Paul J Hesketh, MD, FASCO, Director of the Lahey Health Cancer Institute. “We work collaboratively with all the hospitals to enable access to trials, collective expertise, and second opinions with national healthcare leaders—there is no need to go elsewhere.” Corrine Zarwan, MD, Chair of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at LHMC, is in full agreement. “This makes us very unique as a care provider,” she says. “Patients can receive innovative, cutting-edge care closer to home by participating in a clinical trial, marrying convenience with expertise.” By expanding services, integrating care, and conducting cutting-edge research, the Lahey Cancer Institute is well-positioned to continue serving more patients like Sara—and philanthropic support from the Lahey 5K is vital. “We are so thankful to our 5K participants for the funds they raise, which are critical to our mission,” says Hesketh.