Friends and family are putting their support behind a Vernon woman battling an aggressive form of breast cancer.
This past spring, Jessica Tetz was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, according to her cousin, Tegan Tetz, who created a GiveSendGo fundraiser to rally support.
Triple-negative breast cancer is “known to be a more aggressive and harder to treat cancer,” Tegan wrote on the online fundraiser, which has raised just $1,520 towards its goal of $25,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Jessica has made the tough decision to do as recommended by her family physician - chemotherapy to shrink the tumor followed by surgery and finally radiation treatments to try and prevent recurrence,” Tegan wrote.
“For anyone fortunate enough to have met Jessica, knows she’s the most caring, loving and thoughtful person. This beautiful soul could really use your help right now.”
“Currently due to her chemo treatments she is unable to work, she just purchased her first home here in Vernon in the last year before discovering the news about her health,” said friend Megean Dahms. “EI doesn’t pay much at all, so she is really struggling to make ends meet.”
Jessica’s chemo treatments began in early July, and she’s taking nine to 12 months off work to deal with the side effects. She received her second round of chemo in early August and has seven chemo rounds to endure in total.
According to Tegan, Jessica has been doing well overall, “staying close to home as she tires easily and feels nauseated.” She started cutting her hair shorter each week to prepare herself emotionally for the hair loss, and one day she “took the plunge” and buzzed it all off.
“It looks amazing on her,” wrote Tegan.
An appointment with a gene specialist resulted in unfortunate news: Jessica tested positive for abnormal BRCA1.
“BRCA1 and BRCA2 are suppressor genes that usually have the job of controlling cell growth and cell death,” wrote Tegan. “Everyone has two BRCA1 and two BRCA2 genes. When a person has one altered or mutated copy of either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, their risk for various types of cancer increases.”
The abnormal gene means Jessica has a higher risk of reoccurring breast cancer and a potential for ovarian cancer.
With a BRCA1 mutation comes an average 65 per cent lifetime risk for breast cancer, a 40-60 per cent lifetime risk for a second breast cancer and an average 39 per cent lifetime risk for ovarian cancer, according to Tegan.
Organizers of the GiveSendGo fundraiser are planning to host a silent auction in December to raise more funds for Jessica.