Colleen noticed an unusual bump on her right breast and in August of 2013 she went in for a mammogram.
That's when we heard "You have breast cancer" for the first time. After a few days we decided it was time to stop crying and time to fight.
Colleen went online and did research and decided that University of Penn was the best place for us to go. After all they were number one in the region and 10th in the nation. The doctors immediately ordered many different tests. A few days later we learn the worst prediction possible.
Colleen’s cancer had metastasized to her liver. This took Colleen from stage 1 to stage 4 immediately. They told us then that Colleen’s cancer would never be cured but that it would be managed.
So Colleen went through her first introduction with chemotherapy. Colleen was extremely tired all of the time and very weak but this came with good news, the cancer that was so prominent was starting to die off.
She was soon declared NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE (NED).
They set up surgery to remove her right breast, and the doctors removed more underlying skin to make certain they got everything. In order to insure all micro cancer cells were killed off, Colleen underwent radiation on her breast and surrounding areas.
After over a year of hell Colleen was finally going to get her life back. When the doctor came in for what we thought was to review the last phase of reconstruction he dropped the bomb on Colleen for the second time.
The cancer was back.
We could not believe that it had returned so quickly. He explained that during the first surgery he noticed some redness above her right breast and took a biopsy and sent it to the lab.
At this point Colleen was put through more chemotherapy and clinical trials. The treatment was working well for about 5 to 6 months.
But the cancer started back again and this time it was angry. The cancer spread to her skin and Lymphedema started.
She had great results with a new powerful medicine but Colleen’s body could not tolerate it. University of Penn tried 7 different trials and chemo’s trying to get out in front but the cancer ultimately spread.
The cancer had spread to her “good” left breast and her tumor grew to the size of a soft ball.
Colleen went through 10 days of high radiation to shrink her tumor. After the 7th trial Penn told us that they were out of trials for Colleen.
After doing research Colleen found a two month trial with MD Anderson in Houston,Texas. This is the number one cancer center in the world.
We felt blessed to be there and began with new hope for Colleen and a cure.
While on the trial Colleen had another bad reaction to the medicine that caused her to stay in the hospital for 3 days. She got back onto the medicine about 1 month into the trial but Colleen had lost close to 30 pounds and was weak.
After more scans and talking with the doctors we learned the trail did not do as we had hoped.
Her cancer had spread to her rib cage in her back and her left arm was double in size from the tumor growth.
Colleen’s health continued to decline and on August 30th Colleen started having breathing issues.
She was in a tremendous amount of pain. The cancer was now seemly in control and winning the battle.
During her first week in the hospital Colleen developed pneumonia and her health steadily declined each day.
Colleen passed away on September 19 at 10:30pm after 4 years of fighting.