Brandi’s mother, Kamie Preston was only 35 years old when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Brandi spent many summers babysitting her brother Ben and sister Bailey in hospital waiting rooms as their mother underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It was in those hospital rooms Brandi learned about the genetic mutation her mother carried, a mutation she and her siblings had a 50/50 chance of also having.
As the cancer progressed, Kamie began to prepare her children for life without her. In addition to a mother’s typical expectations for going to college and looking out for each other, Kamie asked each of her children to learn their risk, in order to be proactive with their health rather than reactive.
Kamie passed away on July 27, 2005. She was 40 years old, her children only 14, 13, and 9 years old. Since then, Brandi has fulfilled the promise she made at her mother’s bedside. At age 19, she had genetic testing and learned that she too carries the BRCA1 mutation, giving her an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer and 63% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.
“BRCA has been a gift, although not wrapped very beautifully; it has given me the ability to take control of my health and encourage others to do the same,” Brandi has said since her prophylactic mastectomy at age 22. She no longer fears suffering from or losing her life to breast cancer, like so many women in her family have.
Sarah joined The Kamie K Preston Hereditary Cancer Foundation Staff in July 2022 as our new Executive Director.
Sarah met Brandi at the end of 2018, just a few days after she found out her sister had been diagnosed as BRCA2+. Brandi answered so many questions that she had and she made her feel more comfortable with her decision to go ahead and get tested. Ultimately, Sarah was diagnosed with being BRCA2+ in March 2019. Through testing she found out that her family's BRCA 2 diagnosis came from her dad's side of the family, where they also found out she had another cousin who was positive. In July 2019 Sarah underwent preventative surgery and was able to use the lift chair the Foundation had. She was so grateful for the opportunity to use the lift chair and when there was a need for someone to organize the multiple chairs the Foundation had, She took on the project! Sarah and 2 other ladies involved with the Foundation founded what we now call Chairs to Recovery. Check out wwww.chairstorecovery.com to find out more.
Without the Hereditary Cancer Foundation, the Chairs to Recovery program, wouldn’t be able to grow and expand. When Katie, Heather and Sarah took over in November 2020, we had 6 chairs in rotations, we now have 13 chairs and have loaned out chairs to roughly 75 women. Chairs to Recovery currently has a storage unit in Gretna that houses any chairs not in use and our Recovery Bag supplies. Each time a new woman requests a chair to use after surgery, they get a Recovery Bag, which has various items that we have found helpful in recovery.
Sarah has jumped in to start making improvements in all areas of the Foundation and Chairs to Recovery. She is working to get a better inventory system to track Recovery Bag items, a chair check out system and expanding the program to Central Nebraska for Chairs to Recovery! For the Foundation, Sarah has been working on restarting group outings, new fundraising ideas, updating the websites with the most up to date information and other day to day activites.
The main focus of the Foundation will be to support, educate and develop relationships with those with a hereditary cancer diagnosis and Sarah looks forward to finding new and exciting ways to implment that mission!