Organized by: John Olive
On April 17th, 2015, my wife and best friend, Erin Olive (formerly Erin Calderon) was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) - a type of breast cancer. Erin is just 30 years old, active, and otherwise healthy.
Following the advice of our doctors, Erin underwent genetic testing to determine if any hereditary factors could have influenced her condition. She tested positive for a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. You may be familiar with this gene due to the increase in media attention. This mutation greatly increases Erin's risk of developing future breast cancer (55-65%) and ovarian cancer (39%). This news was particularly devastating to Erin because of her desire to have a family. However, we are greatful for the knowledge as it will assist us in navigating her treatment.
Erin is at the beginning of a long journey fighting this disease. But, we are very confident she will beat it and live out the beautiful, full life she deserves.
Anyone who knows Erin will tell you that she is kind, genuine, loving, and just plain fun. Simply being around her brightens your day. I can tell you personally that she has an incredibly strong spirit and a loving heart.
The medical expenses Erin will incur throughout treatment will be considerable. Anything you can spare will help to ease the financial burden. You will be helping eliminate the worry of debt so she can focus her energy on beating this thing and so she can get back to making us all smile.
*You can also help by spreading the word about our cause through social media:
Share the link to this fundraiser: https://www.crowdrise.com/erinsjourney/
Send Erin positive thoughts using: #erinsjourney
Follow Erin's journey on Instagram: @erinsjourney_
Or, you can just click one of the share buttons under Erin's photo on the left.
Thank you all for your love and support,
P.S. This ordeal has opened our eyes to the prevalence of this disease. To aid in breast cancer prevention and the search for a cure through research, we will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this fundraiser to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Update - 05/27/2015
First of all, let me express my deepest gratitude to all who have donated, shared our story, reached out to Erin, or simply kept her in your thoughts. Today, with your help, we reached the halfway point to our fundraiser's original goal (just 3 weeks after it's inception!). The outpouring of support we have received has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.
On Friday, May 15th, Erin underwent her first surgery. The procedure was a nipple-sparing bilateral mastectomy with direct-to-implant recontruction using cohesive gel implants and a sentinel lymph node dissection on the affected side.
In layman's terms, she had the breast tissue (with the exception of the skin and the nipple/areola) removed from both of her breasts. Then, during the same procedure, she had her breasts reconstructed using "gummy bear" implants. As an added precaution, one lymph node was removed from the affected side. The procedure was performed by two surgical teams and took approximately 8-9 hours.
The surgery was a complete success. All of the desired outcomes were achieved without any major complications. In addition, we are very pleased with the aesthetic results of the reconstruction. It appears as though the final result will be virtually identical in appearance to her natural breasts (aside from some minor scarring as is to be expected).
While a bilateral mastectomy may seem to be a drastic treatment for early stage II breast cancer, we did not take the decision lightly. Once we had received the results of her genetic testing and discovered that she is indeed BRCA1 positive, a consensus was reached between her doctors, Erin, and myself: mastectomy was the best possible course of action. If we had opted to simply remove the tumor (lumpectomy), she would have faced an estimated 63% risk of developing a second breast cancer within 25 years and a lifetime risk for breast cancer of up to 87%, according to her test results.
Erin's strong desire to start a family made the decision easy. There is now hope that she will one day be able to tell her children that they need not worry about losing their mother to breast cancer.
After the surgery, Erin spent two nights at the hospital under observation. She was discharged the following Sunday, the 17th.
Since returning home, Erin has been steadily improving (as many of you have witnessed by following along on Instagram: @erinsjourney_ ). We are learning to celebrate the small victories along her path to recovery.
Erin still has several weeks of recovery ahead of her, but each day is better than the one before. She continues to amaze me with her courage, strength, patience, and determination. Throughout this entire process, she has managed to maintain a positive attitude and she continues to spread joy and love, just as she always has.
She truly is my hero!
Once Erin has recovered from surgery, she will begin the next stages of her treatment. We plan to incorporate a mixture of Eastern and Western methods to treat both her body & mind. We are working with an amazing team at the prestigious Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as seeking opinions and treatments from various other groups, physicians, and practitioners.
All of this has only been made possible through your support. So, once again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
*Please continue spreading the word about our cause:
Share the link: https://www.crowdrise.com/erinsjourney/
Use the hashtag: #erinsjourney
Follow on Instagram: @erinsjourney_