As Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches, let’s all do more than talk about it and actively make a difference! I’m excited to be biking in the Young Survival Coalition’s Tour de Pink 3-day East Coast Ride this weekend (September 27—29), and I’m fortunate to be teaming up with a very special young woman: Jamie Pleva-Nickerson, a NYGPS patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 29 years old.
Jamie’s breast cancer story actually began when her older sister Tracy was diagnosed at age 32. Tracy was also tested and found positive for a BRCA (BReast CAncer) genetic mutation, which significantly raised her risk of getting breast cancer. (This is the mutation that prompted Angelina Jolie to undergo a preventive mastectomy earlier this year, and it also increases a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.) The BRCA mutation is inherited from a mother or father, so Jamie took the genetic test when she turned 28 to find out if she shared her sister’s high cancer risk — unfortunately, she did.
After many discussions, a lot of researching and much soul-searching, Jamie made plans for a preventive mastectomy with Dr. Andrew Ashikari and a simultaneous direct to implant breast reconstruction with my partner Dr. Andrew Salzberg, for her best chance to avoid a breast cancer diagnosis one day. But during pre-surgical breast screening, Jamie was told that she already had cancer. Her new course of action, in addition to the planned mastectomy and breast reconstruction, would include chemotherapy.
Jamie is now a five-year survivor, and offers a supportive shoulder to lean on for other young women with breast cancer. Her big sister Tracy died at 41 years old, and Jamie now rides and raises funds in her memory, and for the many young women in the local area and across the country coping with breast cancer.
I’m an avid cyclist and a gold-level sponsor of the Tour de Pink ride. So when Jamie and I found out about the other’s involvement, we eagerly teamed up, along with her husband and friends, and have been holding weekend practices to prepare for the upcoming 3-day event!