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Who We Fund: Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH

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Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH (credit: Dana-Farber)

For more than two decades, Bakes for Breast Cancer has provided critical funding to breast cancer researchers. Since 2019, Bakes for Breast Cancer has funded the work of Dr. Rachel Freedman, a passionate investigator who focuses her research on those who are at most risk for having poor outcomes once diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Dr. Freedman is a medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer. She works alongside the world renowned team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers Breast Oncology Program. She studied at Georgetown University School of Medicine and obtained her Master’s in Public Health at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In her free time, Dr. Freedman loves to spend time with her husband and three small children. 

Dr. Freedman’s clinical research interests include working with breast cancer patients who are traditionally under-represented in clinical research, such as older women and minority women. Although breast cancer is not rare in these patients, they have not been included in research; this leads to less evidence on how to effectively treat diverse patients, how to best support them during treatment, and how to prepare them for what to expect.

“The work that’s been funded by Bakes for Breast Cancer has been supporting trials that are focused on older patients, a group of patients who are more likely than younger patients to suffer from functional decline and side effects of treatment. As a result, older patients are often under-treated for their cancers.” Dr. Freedman said. “Studies like the one funded by Bakes for Breast Cancer are trying to change that by better informing care and their experiences of going through care.” 

As part of this goal, Dr. Freedman headed the ADVANCE clinical trial (ADjuVANt Chemotherapy in the Elderly: Developing and Evaluating Lower-Toxicity Chemotherapy Options for Older Patients with Breast Cancer), a study for women 70 years and older that aimed to offer a more manageable course of chemotherapy treatment. Dr. Freedman and her team were able to collect large amounts of patient data that concerned patient’s experiences in their own words, as well as critical blood and genetic data. 

“This trial was very underfunded and would not have been made possible without funding from Bakes for Breast Cancer,” Dr. Freedman said. 

The ADVANCE team is now entrenched in the “data phase,” as termed by Dr. Freedman, of the trial. This involves putting all the pieces together and the preliminary reporting of findings, all part of a gradual lead-up to a final paper. 

Dr. Freedman is proud that her relationship with Bakes for Breast Cancer is allowing for such important research work to be done.

“Having Bakes for Breast Cancer as a support system is allowing me to get these older patients into studies,” Dr. Freedman said. “This lets us learn how to better support them in a truly meaningful way, and in a real way. It’s happening.”

Thanks to Bakes for Breast Cancer, essential breast cancer research like the work done by Dr. Freedman is made possible. During events, establishment owners, their employees, and their patrons all contribute to real, tangible work. 

Unfortunately, many promising doctors and their research projects still search for funding. Right now, researchers just like Dr. Freedman languish as their projects come to a standstill, or never get off the ground. At Bakes for Breast Cancer, we can change this narrative just by saving room for dessert. Visit our calendar for upcoming events near you, including in our most recent addition to the Bakes for Breast Cancer family, Maine! You can also make a donation anytime using this page. When we all come together, breast cancer research comes together; Dr. Freedman and her incredible work serve as proof of that.

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