According to breastcancer.org, one in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Tricia Underwood was diagnosed on her birthday, February 8, 2019, with Stage 2/3 Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma in her left breast as well as left lymph nodes. Tricia also tested positive for the cancer-causing BRCA-2 mutation. BRCA mutations are associated with breast cancers, ovarian cancers, pancreatic cancers, and melanoma, as well as being associated with developing cancer at a younger age. Tricia’s oncological team studied her DNA and put together a genetic panel describing her lifetime risks of getting cancer. She has an 85+% chance of getting breast cancer again, and a 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer. I hope her story can inspire others to consider genetic testing, assess their risk, and be proactive in managing their cancer risk.
After meeting with her team of doctors, a breast MRI, and breast biopsy, Tricia’s cancer was very aggressive that immediate chemotherapy had to be started. She has currently finished 6 months of chemotherapy and will have to have double mastectomy with breast reconstruction. While very scary and a major surgery, this is the best way to minimize her risk so that she will not have cancer reoccurring. This can reduce her odds of breast cancer to less than 5%.
She has found two excellent surgeons to do her mastectomy and reconstruction. She has devised a 2-step surgical process. The first step is a mastectomy/reconstruction with expanders surgery, scheduled for July 23, 2019, and the second step is the reconstruction with implants in October/November 2019. Depending on the pathology report, she may need 6 weeks of radiation after her surgery, which requires daily attendance with loss of work. Next, hormone therapy will be needed after surgery and years after in which it will stop hormones being made or preventing hormones from making cancer cells grow and divide. Last, due to her BRCA2 gene mutation, she will need ovary removal/hysterectomy surgery as well.
A cancer diagnosis itself is one of the most difficult burdens to bear; unfortunately, the financial burden is almost as heavy. We, the family, are asking for help in paying for the surgeries, managing her recovery, and easing the financial burden. While her health insurance has been able to cover some of the medical costs, it will not be enough to cover everything. The funds will go to the following: insurance out-of-pocket deductible ( multiple surgery costs, doctors’ appointments, testing, radiation treatments, medications, hospital stays, spirometer, labs, EKGs, x-rays, ultrasounds, and past medical bills); pillows (wedge body pillow, heart-shaped arm pillow, and pregnancy pillow); PJs and medical shirts to hold post-op fluid drains; new wireless bras and medical compression bras; physical therapy to manage pain & reduce lymphedema; silicon scar cream; family bills due to loss of employment work from surgeries and treatments.
Thank you so much for considering and sharing her story. Tricia is a supportive friend, a loving daughter and sister, teacher, wife, and mother to 3 beautiful children. She brings compassion to her family and friends, even on her worst days. This has been an extremely difficult emotional and physical journey, but we are so grateful for her friends, co-workers and family who are helping ease her burden. Let’s kick cancer’s butt!
To read more about BRCA, check out: https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BRCA1andBRCA2.html
To learn more about genetic testing, especially if you have a strong family history of cancer, check out: https://www.facingourrisk.org