Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.
Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Husband honors late wife with gift to support older breast cancer patients

Virginia Aisner inspired her husband to fund the Program for Older Adults with Breast Cancer.

Spring 2024
By Colleen Sullivan

In the last essay she would write for her college reunion book, Virginia Aisner quoted one of her favorite lines from Vergil’s Aeneid: “Perhaps, at some time, we shall be glad to remember even these things.”

To those who knew her, Virginia was not only an extraordinary mentor and friend, but also a person who steadfastly overcame life’s setbacks while bringing out the best in those around her. When she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2020, the news came as a shock to her and her husband, Jim, but she tackled this obstacle the way she did most things—with grace and resolve.

Sadly, despite an initially good prognosis, Virginia’s cancer returned a year later, and this time it was metastatic. She passed away in 2022 at the age of 77.

Breast cancer is a challenging diagnosis at any age, but for adults over age 70, a diagnosis brings unique challenges not faced by younger patients. And while Jim was grateful to the care team at the hospital where Virginia was treated, he believed there were a number of areas that needed improvement, from coordinating appointments and limiting waiting times, to opening channels of communication with oncologists and nurse practitioners.

Soon after Virginia had passed, Jim read a story in Impact about a new program launching at Dana-Farber, the Program for Older Adults with Breast Cancer, and saw that it addressed the problems Virginia had had during her treatment. As a result, he was inspired to establish a fund in her honor, to which he has now given $350,000 in support of this special program.

“This gift is a wonderful way for Virginia to be remembered,” said Jim. “But beyond that, for years to come and in a variety of ways, it will help other people in their journey with this complicated and difficult disease.”

“We take a multidisciplinary approach designed specifically for older patients, which includes support for other age-related health issues they may be facing, nutritional support, social workers, and much more,” said Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, founder and director of the program. “We are grateful to Jim for honoring Virginia’s legacy in such a meaningful way. He is helping us fill a critical need for so many patients and their families.”

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