Coleen was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 35 while pregnant with her second son. She immediately had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal surgery. The pathology report came back stating that a secondary cancer was found and her doctors decided further testing was necessary that could not be done while pregnant. Treatments needed to be started as soon as possible. At 34 weeks pregnant she delivered her baby via C-section. Her baby is doing well and thriving. Once healed enough from the C-section, chemotherapy immediately started which lasted five months. Once chemotherapy was completed, the next step was to have a mastectomy. The question was whether it was to be a single or double mastectomy.

Coleen’s Story

In order to make that decision genetic testing would be required to find out if she was positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. If positive for either, that meant an automatic double mastectomy as there would be a higher risk of reoccurrence. Unfortunately, to have this testing in the province the wait list was two or more years. This decision to have the surgery could not wait and she was left with no choice but to use a private company out of province to have the testing done which is very costly. Upon receiving the results from the genetic testing it turned out she is positive for the BRCA2 mutation. The decision was made to have a double (bilateral) mastectomy. Once healed enough from the surgery, she then began five weeks (25 treatments) of radiation therapy. Following radiation is five to ten years of hormone therapy medication and an oophorectomy surgery due to the positive mutation of the BRCA2 gene.

The physical, mental and emotional stress of going through this journey with a young family is hard enough but to then add on the financial stress was something her and her husband never expected. The Shine On Foundation was able cover the cost of the genetic testing and was a huge help to her family.