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Family members take the fight to cancer

KOMEN EAST TENNESSEE • Mar 9, 2019 at 11:30 AM

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Debbie Chapman, our Honorary Survivor for the 2019 Tri-Cities Race for the Cure. Debbie was diagnosed in March 2018 with stage 1 estrogen positive breast cancer. She has had her tumor removed and completed radiation treatment a few weeks ago. We hinted that there was more to their family story and that they want to share their story to encourage and empower others.

One of Debbie’s daughters, Amber, whom we had mentioned in the previous article, was diagnosed in February 2018 at the age of 34 with stage 3 BRCA2 positive. She has undergone a mastectomy, chemo and radiation and had 18 lymph nodes removed and found 14 tested positive. So some might think, oh, there is a family history since both mother and daughter were affected, and you would be partially correct. Most breast cancers are not caused by inherited gene mutations. Only about 5-10 percent of breast cancers in the U.S. are due to inherited gene mutations. Amber inherited the genetic mutation from her father, Craig. His mother died of breast cancer in 1994 after battling for seven years. Since it was determined that Craig carried the gene mutation, the rest of his siblings were tested and three of the four tested positive from the BRCA2 genetic mutation. Craig’s lone sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer during this time. Through all of this, Craig made a conscious decision to sit down with his physician to discuss his medical family history. He has become much more proactive about his health. This is a reminder that knowledge of family history, from both the father and mother, is SO important.

Since Amber and Craig carried the genetic mutation, Amber’s sister Ashley decided to have the genetic testing and counseling in May 2018. She also tested pBRCA2, which increases her likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Throughout Ashley’s journey, she would read through the material the doctors provided and frequently visit www.Komen.org for additional information. Being informed has empowered her to make the right choices for her.

Debbie, Amber and Ashley have each had a different journey thus far, but each is a SURVIVOR. They have been each other’s cheerleaders, confidantes and strength. Amber became a FIGHTER, choosing to fight for her two adorable, now, 18-month-old twin boys. Debbie put her child first, delaying her own treatment so that she could support Amber until she completed her treatment. Ashley is amazed by the strength she has seen in her mom and sister. It is because of their example that she has had the strength to advocate for her own health.

Join us on Saturday, April 13 for the Tri-Cities Race as we celebrate with these amazing women, men and their families and remember those that have lost their battle. The event is our largest fundraiser of the year and enables us to assist women and men in the Tri-Cities community in their fight! Register at www.KomenEastTN.org/TriRFTC or call (423) 765-9313.

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