In June of 2014, Andrea was diagnosed with an aggressive, stage 2 breast cancer. Together, with her team of oncologists, her treatment plan would embrace 6 rounds of chemotherapy through October, a double mastectomy by Thanksgiving, and conclude with some radiation after she recovered. Several major curve balls were thrown her way during that time but the worst setback was when her double mastectomy had to be pushed back until Christmas because she had come down with shingles. Andrea was resilient and fought through it and we were all keeping our fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, with all that she had been through, she would finally find some luck and fend off radiation.
The cancer spread.
Her follow up appointment revealed that Andrea’s cancer had spread. She would have radiation for one hour a day, five days a week, for the next 6 weeks. She would have a six week recovery period after completing the radiation before she could move forward with reconstruction surgery. Another surgical procedure was being scheduled subsequently for 3 months after that. All the while she was to endure chemotherapy every 3 weeks through July 2015.
Despite not having one ounce of luck, Andrea remained positive. She was smiling. She continued to find the silver lining. She fought for her family. She fought for her two beautiful, fun and caring little girls whose worlds were being shaken. She fought for herself because she was stronger than it; better than it. She inspired us all with her resilience and courage.
Finally, in January 2016, Andrea was given a cancer free clearance. It was time to celebrate! It was time for her and her girls to resume a new normal, but it would be short lived.
In January 2017 Andrea went in for reconstructive surgery once again due to an infection she had after her double mastectomy. It was during the recovery from this surgery that Andrea began to experience extreme back and leg pain, affecting her ability to walk. After another admission to the hospital Andrea learned that her cancer had spread to her bone. She had METS from her toe to her skull which caused three fractures; two in her spine and one in her femur. This was cause for even more surgeries, one to include having a rod inserted to her femur.
At this time, Andrea was introduced to a clinical trial at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The trial included routine scans and chemotherapy once every three weeks. It also included the opportunity for Andrea to have a new lease on life! It gave her the ability to live how she wanted by spending time with her friends and family while making precious memories with her babies. Andrea was able to end the year with a family cruise vacation celebrating life and love.
By December of 2017, Andrea started to experience dizziness and nausea. More scans revealed that the cancer had metastasized to her brain. It was decided that the best treatment option was three weeks of whole brain radiation. Through it all, Andrea showed her strength and slowly but surely adjusted back to her normal life. She was still working and she was undoubtedly being the BEST mom to her girls.
Andrea's scans remained good for months up until December of 2018 when she found out that the cancer had spread and she was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease. The cancer had spread to a membrane of her brain. Andrea attempted one more chemotherapy treatment in hopes to earn more time. The chemo didn't work.
Andrea entered hospice care in February of 2019 and was moved to the Kaplan Family Hospice House three days before she passed. There she was surrounded by love with visits from family and close friends. We lost Andrea on February 12, 2019.
The battle with breast cancer is real. It rocks your world. It rocks you to the core. It comes in layers for the families. For the kids. For the parents. For the siblings. For the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the friends and loved ones.
Imagine a world that this type of worry and heartache didn't exist.
This is our why. This is our passion. We've lived it. We've breathed it. We want to be that silver lining. That glimpse of hope. We are here in the face of the ugly to bring light to the darkness.
We are TEAM ANDREA.