In honor of Dr. Lori Hunter

When Dr. Lori Hunter defended her dissertation in 2000 at Syracuse University, no one on her committee knew that she was receiving chemotherapy for a second recurrence of breast cancer, now at Stage 4 and spread to her lungs, ribs and tibia.

Dr. Lori Hunter“I didn’t want any sympathy. I wanted them to expect what they had expected for the last five years,” she explains.

Dr. Hunter’s cancer journey had begun a decade earlier when she discovered a lump in her breast. A practicing engineer at the time, she had a mastectomy and a local recurrence a year later for which she underwent radiation. After completing her masters degree at Harvard University, she joined Syracuse University in 1995 as an associate dean in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

After her 2000 graduation she took a break from academics to recoup from treatment. During 2000, she started a catering business. She continued to work the growing business part-time, after returning the academic community in 2001 to become associate dean at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Despite having stage 4 cancer, she took a leap of faith and quit her job five years later to become an entrepreneur and run the business full-time. She closed the business after 10 years and moved to North Carolina in 2010 to become associate dean at NC A&T State University, where she finished her career as associate vice chancellor.

In 2011, she went in for breast reconstruction surgery and suffered a brain hemorrhage where a brain lesion was detected. Paralyzed on the right side of her body, she had to learn to walk, move her arms and regain function on the right side of her body.

More brain lesions and liver lesions appeared a few months later in early 2012, and she underwent stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) on her brain. In May 2012, another lesion appeared on her brain and she came to see Dr. Carey Anders at the UNC Brain Metastases Specialty Clinic.

“Dr. Anders had a trial for which I qualified. I had great results on destroying my brain lesion, but had to stop the trial due to peripheral neuropathy.” Dr. Hunter was free from disease in my brain for almost six months, then three more lesions were detected, and she underwent whole brain radiation. “I’m doing very well, “she says. “My doctors tell me that if they didn’t know what they were treating me for, they wouldn’t believe me if I told them my situation. I’m doing that well.”

So well that Dr. Hunter and a friend travel to play at golf courses all over the US. She learned to play golf during her 2000 chemotherapy sessions. “Golf is my outlet. I had to give up golf for a while after the paralysis. As long as I can walk, swing a golf club and not fall down due to balance issues, I’m happy. I don’t play like I used to, but I play and I enjoy it.” She also enjoys exercising her baking skills from her catering days, a sour cream pound cake is among her specialties.