Simmons College President Takes Cancer Battle Public

Download Audio
Simmons College President Helen Drinan. (peiflickr/Flickr)
Simmons College President Helen Drinan. (peiflickr/Flickr)

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.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live