Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Genetic Origins?

September 9, 2011

For years, now, I’ve beaten myself up over how and why I got inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).  Was it that I drank too many diet cokes while studying for college exams?  Was it that I worked in a physics department and there was more than one mercury spill in the lab, unbeknownst to me?  Was it the water we swam in off the Maryland coast when I was so very pregnant, where we saw the industrial plant nearby as we were leaving?  Did I eat too many cheese-its and other processed food?  Why, God, why?

Ahem.

I may have overreacted, back when I was first diagnosed and new to the topic, and of course at each recurrence — it’s only natural.

But we do know a few things about the origins of cancer.  In addition to a person’s actions and direct exposures (like Chernobyl and other disasters), some cancers have environmental origins, which an individual can do little about.  Some cancers are exacerbated by lifestyle factors, like smoking, overeating, and lack of exercise.  We know that now, and we know that we all can reduce our risk of cancer by eating fresh foods, by exercising, and by keeping our weight at a reasonable figure.  There is one more promising source, though, that we haven’t yet been able to do much about yet, and that’s genetics.  Some people have a gene that causes cells to mutate and grow more quickly than typical cells, and some of those people will develop precancers and full-blown cancers (and that sucks!).

The IBC Research Foundation announced today that they have raised $50,000 and given a research grant to Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Ph.D., to determine the genetic origins of triple-negative IBC.  My hands are shaking as I type this.  This is what we’ve wanted and needed – this is REAL hope.  Not pink-ribbon hope, but REAL hope to find a cause, and then a cure, for inflammatory breast cancer, which still kills half of the people it plagues within 5 years.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.  And all it took was $50,000 in donations.

One of which was mine.

I’m adding Dr. Cunliffe to my prayers this week.  I pray that she stay strong, and dedicated, and that she have the right tools and support to FIND the GENE that causes my cancer, and that that knowledge then can be USED by her or others to find out how to turn it off.

So that others don’t have to suffer.

I’m over the moon about this news, and I wanted to share this with you — even at the risk of trolls appearing in my comments telling me that I did, actually, cause my cancer by snacking on diet coke and cheese-its.  This news isn’t about me.  It’s about reducing risk for those who come after me, and it is WONDERFUL news!

TGen Receives $50,000 to Find Genetic Origins of Rare Breast Cancer

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Sept. 7, 2011 – The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation (IBCRF) has awarded $50,000 to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to discover the genetic origins of this rare and most deadly form of breast cancer.

Unlike other types of breast cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is very often misdiagnosed, and rapidly progresses to an advanced stage, said Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Head of TGen’s Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit. “No one knows what causes IBC and what drives the aggressive nature of this disease,” Dr. Cunliffe said. “You can wake up one morning and out of the blue your breast will be twice its normal size, red and inflamed with full blown Inflammatory Breast Cancer.”

To read the rest of the press release go to:
http://www.tgen.org/news/index.cfm?newsid=1991

Congratulations, Dr. Cunliffe, and THANK YOU, IBC Research Foundation!

To donate, visit the IBC Research Foundation‘s website; if you wish, you can mark your check “for research.”  I did, and I’m so excited to see how my donation and others are being used!