Simmons College President Takes Cancer Battle Public18:21

Simmons College President Helen Drinan. (peiflickr/Flickr)
Simmons College President Helen Drinan. (peiflickr/Flickr)
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This is a busy season for Helen Drinan, the president of Simmons College. Like many college presidents, she's planning for next month's commencement ceremonies — looking forward to celebrating her student's accomplishments.

But unlike other college presidents, Helen Drinan has made public a very personal battle.

Last September, a routine mammogram revealed a small but aggressive tumor in her breast. She decided almost immediately what to do.

She declared herself "a cancer warrior" and resolved to live this as a public journey. Since then, she's published essays, sent regular emails to the Simmons community about her treatment — she even took a selfie during chemotherapy.

All this, she says — to share what she's learned about an affliction that affects roughly one in eight women in the U.S. On a mostly female campus, how could she do otherwise?


Helen Drinan, president of Simmons College.


The Boston Globe: Simmons President Makes Cancer Fight A ‘Public Journey’

  • "September was a very inconvenient time for Simmons College president Helen Drinan to learn that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer."

The Boston Globe: I Have Breast Cancer

  • "Stealthily over the past year a group of enemy agents in the form of malignant cells have been massing under the banner of breast cancer to assault my life."

WebMD: New Mammogram Screening Guidelines FAQ

  • "The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is recommending sweeping changes in its breast cancer screening guidelines."

American Cancer Society: American Cancer Society Recommendations For Early Breast Cancer Detection In Women Without Breast Symptoms

  • "Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health."

This segment aired on April 14, 2015.