Author: Julie Matthews
February 16, 2016
In December, we announced the winners of the 2015 Side-Out Ambassador Program Awards. As part of the process, scholarship applicants submitted essays that addressed the following questions:
Below is an essay from Rachel Perucki, an ambassador and scholarship winner from Tomball Memorial High School in Tomball, TX.
For my educational hours I listened to 5 workshops on www.cancercare.org, all of which lasted an hour each. These topics ranged from the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer and the treatment of estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor positive breast Rachel Perucki 1 of 4 cancer and the effects of triple negative breast cancer in African American women, but every single one that I listened to took me back to Triple Negative Breast cancer. I decided after reviewing the different topics on Cancer Care and deciding which workshops to listen to, that I was going to focus on Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It seemed like the best fit for what I wanted to accomplish when I discovered that one of the girls on my team, and a dear friend of mine, had an aunt who had passed away due to Triple Negative Breast Cancer. So not only was this an amazing opportunity to learn about a topic that effects millions of people each day, but it was also an opportunity to educate the rest of my team about something that had affected one of our own.
From my educational hours I learned about Triple Negative Breast Cancer which refers to any breast cancer that tests negative for estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR) and HER2. Estrogen receptors are a group of proteins found inside cells that do exactly what their name says, they receive the hormone estrogen (which is the primary female sex hormone and is responsible for female physical features and reproduction). Progesterone receptors is similar to estrogen receptors in that it is also a protein found inside the cell and receives a hormone only progesterone receptors receive the hormone progesterone (as per the name). Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 aka HER2 is a gene that can play a massive role in the development of breast cancer because it promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2 positive breast cancers tend to be the more aggressive form of breast cancer. But the bad part about Triple Negative, the part that makes it one of the most feared cancers, is when a person is Triple Negative their cancer will not respond to hormonal therapy or therapies used to target HER2 receptors. When researching Triple Negative. Listening to my workshops I learned that although there are complications that come with Tripe Negative Breast Cancer, there are new innovative ways to help treat it.
I got all the information that I had learned from these workshops by asking a friend of mine who is in the journalism class at my high school to make me a video that got put on our video announcements we watch during homeroom. This video not only advertised the shirts the volleyball team was selling but it also put out facts and statistics regarding breast cancer, specifically Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Along with this I spoke at my school’s HOSA meeting and spoke with my team about my findings.
This experience made me understand a new type of breast cancer that I have never known before so I left this experience with a better understanding of the world around me. I also felt very humbled by this research after learning that my teammate and friend was affected by Triple Negative Breast Cancer because of her aunt. This gave me a sense of camaraderie too, because it allowed my team to stand behind one of our own and really support her family through the process of this event. We did not incorporate the Rally theme of “The Power of Will” because we chose to go with a different theme that better reflected our community, especially our school district who has had a fair number of employees be diagnosed with breast cancer and undergo chemotherapy while still teaching.