Heather Jo Dean

On December 20th Heather received her final test results to indicate the type of cancer she has. She has been diagnosed with Triple-negative breast cancer. “Triple-negative” means the test results were negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein. The  growth of the cancer is not fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, or by the HER2 protein. This type of cancer does not respond to hormonal therapy medicines or medicines that target HER2 protein receptors. Still, other medicines are used to successfully treat triple-negative breast cancer. About 10-20% of breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancers. 

Based on initial tests and prior to the triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis we knew chemotherapy was the short term treatment plan regardless of the type of breast cancer. Both the oncologist and breast surgeon are recommending a lumpectomy be done post chemotherapy. We anticipate this will happen late spring or early summer. On Wednesday December 21st Heather went through a minor procedure to insert a port to prepare for chemotherapy. Dr. Rav, Heather’s oncologist, also completed a scan of her heart on December 23rd to make sure it’s ready to take on the chemotherapy treatments. 

Heather will enjoy a few days celebrating the Christmas holiday with her family before chemotherapy begins on December 30th.  The chemo she will receive will be scheduled every other week for 2 months and then shift to every week for an additional 3 months. After 5 months of chemotherapy the doctors will reevaluate how much (if any) of the tumor is left. They will schedule a surgery to take out the remainder of the tumor, if necessary. If it’s completely gone, they will remove a small part of her breast tissue and lymph node to make sure all cancer cells are gone.

As you can see Heather has a long road ahead of her. The treatment plan, though generally mapped out, will continue to be reevaluated at each step. This will have costs of treatment continue to mount for Heather. The generosity and spirit of family and friends has eased an  unbelievable burden for Heather already and any continued financial support will continue to bring security to Heather. 
If you are able to donate financially, please do so! If not, your warmth and kindness will also help keep Heather in good spirits.