Melanie and Tiffany.
My sister Tiffany, at the age of 31, was diagnosed with Triple Negative Metaplastic Breast Carcinoma Stage 2B in September of 2016. After receiving the diagnosis, she underwent the standard procedures and treatments, which included chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy with axillary node dissection, radiation, and reconstruction surgery. Throughout her cancer battle, her faith and courage could be felt by anyone she interacted with.
She volunteered herself to mentor another woman close to her age who received a breast cancer diagnosis months after her own. She attended this woman's first chemotherapy session to show her support. There were many long conversations with each other during their treatments and a life-long friendship was created.
In February 2017, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. As Tiffany woke up from anesthesia, the medical staff welcomed her into remission. Following recovery from her surgery, she walked me down the aisle at my wedding and rapped her maid of honor speach to Ice Ice Baby. Tiffany returned to her normal life. She continued to teach 7th-grade math and at the end of the school year traveled to Ecuador to discover the beauty of the Galapagos Islands.
In October, during breast cancer awareness month, The William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center at Carroll Hospital Center asked Tiffany to speak as the survivor at the Pink Fling fundraiser. She spoke graciously about her journey to hundreds who attended.
Before Christmas, she developed a persistent cough. Without hesitation, she went for a chest x-ray that revealed metastasis lesions in bilateral lungs. The following days consisted of oncology appointments and additional diagnostic imaging. Each day the news worsened. The testing showed the extent of the cancer to her brain, liver, lungs, and bones. Diagnosed on Tuesday, January 18th, 2018 with Triple Negative Metaplastic Breast Carcinoma Stage 4. By the following Monday, she started enduring whole brain radiation for two weeks. Today, she is currently receiving chemotherapy with the same hope and warrior attitude from the beginning.
What do you with news like this? You plan. A Sister’s Promise for Hope Foundation was founded in February 2018 with the mission to support breast cancer funding and promote awareness. With the creation of the foundation, started the yearly “Pretty in Pink” Prom Night. Similar to prom as teenagers, tickets to attend are sold and ticket sales are donated. During the prom, a silent auction is held to raise additional funding. Many individuals and companies have graciously sponsored the event and have given donations for the silent auction.
On May 12th, 2018 we held the 1st Annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser Prom Night to bring together family, friends, co-workers, and cancer survivors for a night of raising awareness and funds for breast cancer. We hosted over 150 guests, raised over $20,000 and made a donation to the National Cancer Institute for Triple Negative Breast Cancer research. The following year we hosted The 2nd Annual Prom Night where we experienced enormous growth with the number of attendees and money raised. I traveled to Houston, Texas to hand delivered a $20,000 check to the #1 cancer center in the nation, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
On Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 Tiffany passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Although the foundation was created from promises two sisters made, it has become so much more. Each year I am honored to announce the prom court consisting of breast cancer survivors. With the memory of my sister’s first grand entrance dancing to Carrie Underwood's song "The Champion", I know I can fulfill my promise to her that we will make a difference. As I promised her, I will continue bring others together to fight as one against this disease; and there will always be an endless amount of hope.