VB Gives Back

VB GIVES BACK: Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin

October 1, 2018

After being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41, doctor, philanthropist, and former model, Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin saw over sixteen different doctors in different specialties to find the right treatment plan for her. During this complicated process, and with over 300,000 new cases of breast cancer invading the lives of both men and women in the United States annually, Eva made it her life’s mission to find a better way to treat breast cancer patients. In 2011, that mission was realized through the founding of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai: a holistic, full-service facility that treats the whole person, not just the disease. 
Today, Eva is cancer-free and the center has had more than 190,000 patient visits.

You started your career as a model, but eventually went into medicine. What prompted your career change?

I started taking pre-med classes in high school so I could go to medical school.But my plans were slightly derailed when I became a Ford model and was Miss Sweden for the Miss Universe contest in 1980. Then one day, I decided I had to go back to medical school or I would never be able to pursue my original dream of becoming a doctor.

What inspired you to develop the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41. I had 17 consultations — with pathologists, surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, and I was my own navigator through this process. During my treatment I thought: there has to be a better way.

I realized that with my unique experience as a philanthropist, patient, and physician, I could really make a difference. I could integrate all areas of medicine under one roof and treat the whole woman. 

How did you first meet your partner, Dr. Elisa Port?

While I was visiting a friend, who had just had surgery for breast cancer, this really vivacious, super smart doctor walked in, and it turned out to be Dr. Elisa Port. After ten minutes of listening to her I said, “this is the type of doctor I want to lead the Dubin Breast Center.”

Why do you think it’s taken so long for a place like the Dubin Breast Center to open?

We were the first to create a tranquil place that could treat the whole person and remain open to all patients who walk through our doors. With government funding decreasing, a place like the Dubin Breast Center is only made possible through dedicated philanthropy.

What can patients expect when they come to the Center?

Patients are given access to an extraordinary team of experts providing the most advanced treatment techniques. We also provide access to wellness programs, patient and family support services, education, genetic counseling and testing, cold-cap services, onco-fertility, and survivorship support, among others.

How do you maintain the boutique, family experience that patients have come to love about the Center?

We focused a lot on the initial feeling one might get when walking into the center; making sure there is an immediate sense of calm, comfort and care. We also worked on the layout of the space so that a patient’s experience in the center flows easily and patients aren’t constantly getting dressed and undressed to go from one doctor to the next. 

You mentioned that the Center is open to everyone, and that you have yet to turn a patient away. How do you keep such an open-door policy?

I am devoted to all patients’ physical and emotional health, regardless of their income. As of this month, there have been over 190,000 patient visits to the Center – and over 50% of those visitors are on Medicare or Medicaid. We rely on philanthropy to provide care to everyone.

You mentioned that you currently have 21 open clinical trials. Can you tell us about some of your learnings?

We are fully engaged in clinical research and recently published the first study to show that mammograms save lives and lower the likelihood of needing aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy and mastectomy.

Is there a story from your time since opening the Dubin Breast Center that continues to make an impact?

A young woman was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 23. She was scared, alone, and many miles from home. But this woman was strong and determined to be brave. She had a very aggressive treatment regimen which included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Today this woman is cancer-free. When we honored her at an event recently, she told the audience, “Thank you for fulfilling each and every need, even the ones I didn’t know I would have. Thank you for curing me and doing it with such compassion and dedication. This will sound weird, but it has been a true pleasure being a patient at your Center!”

What are your goals for the Dubin Breast Center for the future? Are there plans for expansion?

The progress that has been made in breast cancer over the past 25 years is remarkable.
With this, comes a growing demand for services and increased access at the Center.We have plans to expand in multiple ways including: renovating our infusion space, expanding breast imaging hours, and combining the resources of our high-risk surveillance program, database, and access to screening studies to identify those who are at risk for harboring a gene marker or mutation.

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