Amy Winter Memorial Fund
The Amy Winter Memorial was created by Amy’s 2 daughters, Amanda Tiseo and Allison Winter to create awareness around hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Where it all started…
For as long as we can remember, our life has been defined by cancer. We thought it was hard when cancer was first introduced to us; when our mother's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer back in the early 1990's. She fought for almost 12 years before it took her life in April of 2004. Over those years, breast cancer turned into ovarian cancer. All her treatments eventually caused her to get leukemia which is what actually took her life.
Her oncologist realized the link between breast and ovarian cancer and sent her to a genetic counselor to be tested for hereditary cancer. She was the first in our family to be tested and she was positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. Needless to say, her children and her siblings were the next to be tested. Our mother was included in this, and she too was positive for the BRCA1 mutation. This is where our life started to be about the fight against cancer and what we can do to even save one person from experiencing the effects of cancer on a family.
In Spring of 2003, is when our mother found out she was positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation and the same month found out she had breast cancer. She had both breasts removed, a hysterectomy, and her ovaries out. After that, the cancer was gone...for now. After her sister/our aunts passing in April of 2004, we made the decision that we would get tested for the BRCA1 mutation, given we had a 50% chance. We will never forget that moment; the geneticist came in the room and gave us the news that we were both positive for the BRCA1 mutation. We made a decision right then and there that we would use this extremely useful information to begin living our lives in prevention mode and not view it as a death sentence. We vowed we would do whatever it took to beat the odds. Our mother continued to battle another round of breast cancer in her opposite breast. She went through chemotherapy and was in remission again...for now. Cancer reared its ugly head again in the early months of 2006. It had spread to her brain. The initial prognosis was 3 months. She went through whole brain radiation for 2 straight weeks, which is the most one person can have in their entire lifetime. We went to numerous specialists throughout the country to see what options we had. After the radiation treatments, she continued with chemo for months. The 40 spots in her brain shrunk in half, and eventually shrunk to only a few and they were significantly smaller. We thought we had witnessed a miracle.
The Summer of 2007 would start us on our journey to help cure cancer...or at least try to prevent it. In August of 2007 our mother knew something wasn't right. She wanted to make one last vacation with her family over Labor Day Weekend. She packed her things and went on a week vacation with her siblings and their spouses. She had to cut the trip short when her body was in so much pain she couldn't move. She arrived home and our dad took her directly to the ER. She was admitted to the hospital. This would be her final stay. The cancer had spread to her bones. She was in the hospital for 3 weeks when we received a phone call from our father that we needed to get there as soon as humanly possible. She had slipped into a coma and would be moved to a hospice the next morning, a Thursday. She moved to hospice and passed away that Monday at age 50. Those last 5 days of her life changed us forever. Watching her take her final breath was the single most profound event in our life.
Since that moment, we made a promise to her that we would do whatever it took to prevent a family from experiencing what we had gone through and to keep fighting. Over the next couple years, we pushed and motivated our family to join us in this journey. The 2 of us, being carriers of the BRCA1 genetic mutation, have everything to gain from the amazing work of FORCE. Without a cure for cancer, we have up to an 87% chance of getting breast cancer in our lifetime and roughly 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer. We know the options that are out there, but the only thing that will really save us one day is a cure.
In November 2012, Amanda underwent a prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction surgery to reduce her chances of breast cancer. In the years to come, an oophorectomy and hysterectomy are the plan of attack. Allison also plans on this course of preventative action in her future.
Please help us on our journey to help find a cure; donate to the Amy Winter Memorial Fund. You are not only helping keep the memory of our mother alive, but also helping the both of us for our health in the future.
Thank you for your support!
Amanda Tiseo & Allison Winter
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