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First she fought breast cancer. Then she learned her chemo drug put her at risk for heart disease.

Posted at 6:35 AM, Feb 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. — The first time we talked to Tara Daudani was back in 2018 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer at just 37 years old.

The former CBS 6 producer's breast cancer journey would involve eight rounds of chemo, 25 rounds of radiation and seven surgeries.

"Unfortunately, cancer is the gift that keeps on giving especially when you've had as many treatments as I had," Daudani said.

Almost five years after her cancer diagnosis, Daudani learned one of her chemo drugs put her at risk of heart disease.

"Are you kidding me? Something else," Daudani said.

Daudani is a patient at VCU Massey Cancer Center's survivorship clinic.

"We had diagnostics done before the chemo and unfortunately it had gone down a little bit," Daudani said.

That's why she was referred to VCU Health cardiologist Dr. Wendy Bottinor.

"Before Tara had any symptoms or any issues had cropped up, we were able to detect some very early subtle signs of heart disease and go ahead and be proactive at that point," Dr. Bottinor said.

Bottinor said many cancer patients may not know they're at risk until years later.

"For many folks, once they are 10 years out from cancer therapy, their risk of death from heart disease is actually higher than their risk of death from cancer," Bottinor explained.

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Dr. Wendy Bottinor, VCU Health cardiologist

Dr. Bottinor said cancer patients are at a higher risk for heart problems due to certain cancer therapies, radiation done on the left side of the chest and patients diagnosed at age 40 or younger.

The side effects from some cancer therapies can cause an irregular heartbeat, heart disease, high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.

"One of the biggest things we're focused on is preventing heart failure. When the heart muscle isn't just pumping as strongly," Bottinor said.

Cardio oncology is a relatively new field. Cancer and heart doctors work closely together. Massey's program has been around since early 2000. The collaboration is to help patients thrive after cancer.

"We're in a big academic center. We have a highly collaborative relationship with Massey. We do provide a lot of these cutting edge trials," said Bottinor.

And Daudani is part of one of those clinical trials.

"This was just another way for me to advocate for myself, patients and survivors," Daudani said.

For more information about Massey's cardio oncology program click on the links below:

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