Survivor helps raise money for cancer research
October 27, 2022
MD Anderson offers hope to patient with stage IV triple-negative breast cancer
BY Elise Raymund
In October 2020, Archna Chainani was diagnosed with stage IV triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. After some discouraging internet research on the disease, Archna and her family were determined to seek care at a place that would actively treat the cancer and give her the best shot at a full recovery.
“Everything pointed us to MD Anderson,” Archna says.
At the encouragement of Beatriz Adrada, M.D., a family friend who is also a breast imaging physician and researcher, Archna made an appointment at MD Anderson.
“Her care has been curated by experts,” says Ashley Chainani, Archna’s daughter. “We looked for second opinions outside of MD Anderson, but whenever we told others who her oncologist, surgeon or radiologist at MD Anderson was, their names were immediately recognized as being among the best. They would tell us MD Anderson was the best hospital for her.”
After receiving chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and a radical mastectomy, Archna learned she had no evidence of disease in mid-2021. Her family was ecstatic.
Resilience in the face of a triple-negative breast cancer recurrence
But in late 2021, Archna’s world was turned upside down again. The cancer had returned, metastasized to her bones and was likely non-curable.
“Their current goal is to keep the cancer under control with treatment so that it becomes a condition she lives with, such as diabetes,” Ashley says. “Our hope is that my mom will continue to live many fulfilling years and, eventually, benefit from a cure for breast cancer.”
“There are so many new clinical trials and medications, and that gives me hope,” Archna says. “Of course, I have bad days here and there. But I’ve decided I am going to fight for myself and my family.”
As Archna is now receiving a novel agent, she and her family still believe MD Anderson has been the best choice for her treatment.
“My care has been top-of-the-line. My doctors make me feel very at ease and very loved. They are very passionate about what they do,” Archna says.
“Her doctors constantly follow up,” Ashley says. “They remember not just my mom’s face; they remember all of us. They know our stories. They make you feel like you’re not just a patient — you're a person.”
Fundraising for cancer research through the Boot Walk to End Cancer®
After she was initially declared no evidence of disease, Archna and her family wanted to give back to MD Anderson and support the cancer research efforts that had saved her life. When Ashley learned about MD Anderson's Boot Walk to End Cancer®, she encouraged her family to fundraise for and participate in the 1.2-mile walk supporting prevention, research and care. In 2021, their team raised more than $25,000 through the Boot Walk. They designated these funds for breast cancer research led by Archna’s oncologist, Vincente Valero, M.D.
One of Archna’s first treatments was an immunotherapy and chemotherapy combination that was approved by the FDA that year, thanks to a clinical trial funded by the Boot Walk. “Participating in the Boot Walk was an easy way for us to show our appreciation,” she says.
Ashley agrees, noting that the Boot Walk enables their family to support novel research that benefits patients like her mother.
“When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, you feel so powerless. The Boot Walk makes me feel like there’s something I can do to help. Whether it’s 10 years, five years or one year from now, the clinical trials we are funding could benefit my mom again,” Ashley says.
Boot Walk provides families with meaningful time together
Despite the return of her cancer, Archna’s determination inspired her family to continue participating in the Boot Walk this year.
“Even now that her cancer has come back and spread, we're still fighting, and MD Anderson is still giving us hope. No matter what, they don't give up,” Ashley said.
The Boot Walk has provided a way for the Chainani family and their friends to spend time doing something meaningful together. This year, the Boot Walk will return to an in-person event for the first time in two years. Archna and her team are looking forward to walking together at MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center Campus in their favorite pairs of boots.
“We don't take each other for granted anymore. Now, every minute we spend with each other is so precious,” Archna says.
“With a stage IV diagnosis, you’d think we might try to live faster and experience as many things as quickly as possible,” Ashley adds. “But instead of hitting the gas pedal, we slowed down, and we try to appreciate every little moment now. We take things one day at a time and focus on what we know, not what we don’t know.”
Register to join the Boot Walk to End Cancer on Nov. 5 at MD Anderson or wherever you are.
They make you feel like you’re not just a patient — you're a person.