Young Mother of Two
Employs Proton Therapy
to Battle Breast Cancer
Pregnancy is one of the happiest times for a growing family. Between choosing baby names, decorating the nursery, and indulging in unusual food cravings, the last thing Han Lin, a healthy 37-year-old active runner from Bothell, Washington expected was to discover a lump in her breast.
She discovered the lump as she approached her third trimester in May 2017. Although she was slightly concerned, she figured it would be difficult to get checked out while she was pregnant, so she decided to wait until after she’d given birth to her daughter Ella that August.
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Han’s breast exam was delayed even further due to other health concerns, chief among them was her new diagnosis as a Type 1 diabetic. Once her diabetes was under control, Han received a breast exam and a subsequent biopsy in December 2017. She was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
Han immediately underwent surgery to remove the tumor in January 2018, followed by five months of chemotherapy. The next step was radiation.
As she contemplated her options, Han thought about her daughters. Her eldest, Emma, was 6, and Ella was about 6 months old at the time. She wanted to choose the treatment that gave her the best chance of seeing them both grow up, go to college, start their careers, and begin families of their own. With that in mind, Han’s EvergreenHealth-based radiation oncologist recommended proton therapy— a highly targeted form of radiation therapy with the goal of reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue. Since the tumor was in her left breast, this nearby tissue included her heart and lungs.
Han took charge of her treatment by scheduling a consultation with Dr. L. Christine Fang, an oncologist specializing in breast cancer treatment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center. During the consultation Dr. Fang explained what Han’s treatment plan would look like and described the potential side effects she might experience. Equipped with this information and her own research, Han took action right away and moved forward with proton therapy.
Han’s proton therapy consisted of 15- to 20-minute sessions, five days a week, for a total of seven weeks. Although the treatment sessions were brief, Han frequently felt fatigued and spent most of her time resting at home. Han’s husband, Frank Wang, and their extended family and friends, all pitched in to support her and her daughters during treatment. Han finished her last treatment session on Ella’s first birthday, August 22, 2018.
Han Lin is now cancer free and embracing every second of her life. Prior to her cancer diagnosis, she enjoyed solo workouts such as running, but now she enjoys being part of her local YMCA Zumba community because it’s brought joy and new friendships into her life. She’s back at work as an accountant, and spending time with Emma and Ella. Thanks to her decision to pursue proton therapy treatment, Han is optimistic she’ll see her daughters grow up and achieve all of their dreams.