Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Dianne Harris Wright

Dianne Harris Wright’s experience at VCU Massey Cancer Center has been personal from the start, eight years ago. After receiving her diagnosis of Stage 3 ovarian cancer from her doctor in the community on the Friday of a holiday weekend, she and her husband, Ken, sprung into action making phone calls to anyone and everyone they know who could help answer their questions. By the following Tuesday, she was in the capable hands of gynecological oncologist and surgeon Cecelia Boardman, M.D.

“As with many women who get diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my initial symptoms slipped by my primary care doctors, so by the time I was diagnosed, my situation was urgent,” says Wright. “From day one, my Massey doctors acknowledged the critical nature of the disease, but were also extremely confident in their recommendations for treatment.”

After Wright’s initial surgery, Boardman presented her with the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, testing a new drug showing promise in preventing recurrence of ovarian cancer. Wright was eager to participate.

“Knowing my treatment options were stemming from the latest in cancer research gave me an enormous amount of encouragement,” says Wright.

Wright’s initial treatment on the clinical trial resulted in an 18-month remission. However, her cancer did return and the last six years have been a nearly constant battle to keep the cancer at bay.

“Dianne is remarkable in that she never loses hope,” says Boardman. “I keep telling her my bag of tricks is not empty yet, and she faces each round of treatment with the same determination and confidence.”

“I know that each time Dr. Boardman and I discuss next steps, she’s giving me the absolute latest and best choices available,” says Wright. “After eight years, I know we’re in this together. She’s personally invested in my care and I’m grateful.”

Massey's multidisciplinary teams are the basis for exceptional patient care, ensuring every patient is evaluated by a team of experts and provided the most promising course of treatment and opportunities to participate in clinical trials. Wright's gynecologic oncology team includes Weldon Chafe, M.D.; Cecelia Boardman, M.D.; and Marcia Megginson, R.N.

“Dianne certainly beat the odds that she was facing in her illness,” says Boardman, who now holds the Dianne Harris Wright Professorship for Gynecologic Oncology Research, “But every year we’re making strides against this disease, and I have more and more patients like Dianne, living longer, better lives after ovarian cancer.”

Editor's note: Dianne Harris Wright passed away in October 2013. Her husband, Ken, remains grateful for the extraordinary level of care she received over twelve years of treatment and clinical trial participation at VCU Massey Cancer Center.