Breast cancer affects one in eight women and almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by this disease.  Although great strides have been made in treatments and survival rates, one particularly aggressive form of breast cancer presents unique challenges.  It is known as triple negative breast cancer.  

A triple negative breast cancer diagnosis means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for three different receptors that are commonly found on breast cancer cells: the estrogen receptor (ER), the progesterone receptor (PR) and the human epidermal growth factor (HER-2). When these receptors are not present on the cell, common non-chemotherapy treatments that block these receptors, such as hormone therapy or targeted therapy, do not work.  Treatment options are therefore limited.  

At age 43, Johns Creek resident Karen Tortoriello found a lump on her breast.  As an active mother of four (ages 4, 8, 12, and 14), she had always been in good health, enjoying tennis and other sports, and had even recently achieved her dream of being the lead singer in a rock band.    She would never have suspected an aggressive triple negative breast cancer growing inside of her.  She endured months of several cycles of multiple chemotherapy regimens followed by 33 days of radiation.  

Karen was strong, had the love and support of family, friendsand neighbors - and she had her music.  After chemo had caused her to lose all her hair, their band, BackFlash performed at a local breast cancer benefit.  Not dismayed at losing her hair, Karen changed into different wigs between sets, with creative results!  And, after the gig, everyone at the post party at Waffle House got an opportunity to try on a wig as well.

Karen found strength that she never knew she had; she fought and won and is now cancer free.   She is watching her kids become adults.  She got her real estate license, and is now a successful realtor in Johns Creek.  

To give back, Karen is joining with several other local musicians for a benefit concert at Brooklyn Cantina on October 25th. Music starts at 7:30.  Several Johns Creek businesses are donating gifts and prizes to support both a silent auction and raffle.  Proceeds will go to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation (TNBCF), which provides education and support to patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and is devoted to finding targeted treatment for this disease.

For further information, or to make a donation, contact lfaupel@comcast.net.

 

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