“Breast cancer has already taken 5 women in my family and there are 3 of 7 women in my immediate family who may one day be impacted by breast cancer themselves… that is why I support the fight against this disease.” – Melissa
Melissa began participating in the Komen Houston Race for the Cure® many years ago when she worked at Enron and her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and wasn't expected to live. Her aunt lived in England at the time, but Melissa walked in her honor here in Houston. She is still alive today, but breast cancer has taken 5 other women in her family. On July 2, 2013, Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram showed a suspicious calcification area. She remembers running a Run Wild 5K on 4th of July and started chemotherapy a few weeks later.
Melissa’s family is what you call “BRCA positive”. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer. Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and they have been associated with increased risks of several additional types of cancer. Together, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers. Susan G. Komen® research is currently investigating BRCA genes to develop new ways to prevent breast cancer in BRCA mutation carriers, including new drugs, hormone therapies and dietary approaches.
While undergoing treatment, Melissa started a Race Team. Her family and co-workers rallied around her and showed her overwhelming support during her journey.
This year, Melissa ranked #36 on the 2015 Pink Honor Roll for her phenomenal fundraising efforts in raising $4,280 to support Komen Houston’s mission – to save lives and end breast cancer forever. The funds raised by Melissa and others help fuel national breast cancer research addressing BRCA genes.