From The Beginning
Anna Verrico was a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend to many who built a career in financial services, working for a major global food producer. A World traveller, deep sea diver, runner and gym bunny, In her leisure time she helped others through volunteer work, which she had been passionate about from a very young age.
In her late teens and early 20’s Anna volunteered full-time for a charity, donating for free a thousand hours a year to others who suffered from issues with social mobility, depression and sadness. She was an epic fundraiser, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge to support the deaf school in Doncaster and abseiling down the headquarters of Eversheds Sutherland LLP, the skyscraper of Bridgewater Place, Leeds to raise money for MacMillan cancer charity.
After Lucia, her first born, arrived in February 2010 she focused entirely on her daughter and then later on her little boy Alessandro born in 2012. With her husband Paul, life was good.
And then cancer arrived. Initially, the diagnosis in November 2012 was of a stage 1, grade 3 tumour, which was triple negative in nature. It didn’t appear to have spread and so aggressive surgery and chemotherapy followed. Anna had no cancer risk factors: she had always been a fit and healthy girl, eating an organic diet, abstaining from nicotine and drinking rarely. There was no family history of the disease.
During the summer of 2013 after chemotherapy had ceased, Anna trained for a local half marathon and enlisted the help of a dozen friends to raise money for cancer research. When the horrendous news of her terminal condition was known and the cancer had returned, Anna resolved to complete what she had started. Refusing to use a mobility scooter or a buggy, she prevailed on the organisers of the half marathon to activate a fun run which Anna completed in order to fulfil her money raising obligations.
What followed was then a desperate 10 week fight for treatment options, including revolutionary treatments practised by a Harley Street clinic. Her death, on the late evening of 19 November 2013, was a tragedy to all who loved her. She displayed stoic determination and ultimate devotion to her family and faced a bitter enemy with resolve, strong conviction and a full heart. Anna’s firm belief, despite overwhelming contrary opinion, was metastatic, aggressive, hard to treat breast cancer was an inconvenience but was not going to beat her. Her friends and family resolved that Anna would not lose her fight with the disease, she would intend to serve as the inspiration to help other families gain more tomorrows and her motto of never giving up would serve as a touchstone for those in a similar situation.
We are Team Verrico, we bring hope where there is none.
Team Verrico has focused on two research projects so far.
The first is at the University of Sheffield, where funds raised have been assigned to an individual PHD student who complete doctorate research into cancer and cutting edge treatments for the disease. (The DNA replication and repair group via David Meadows Development Officer, Legacies and Individual Giving, The University of Sheffield.)
The second project is that run by Professor Stebbing at Imperial College London, to further fund his ground breaking research into Triple Negative Breast Cancer. (Professor Justin Stebbings, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College London).
The charity helps: ‘To promote and protect the physical and mental health of sufferers and their families of particularly lethal medical conditions’. Any money pledged to individual missions goes directly to that fund. Team Verrico’s involvement is raise awareness of these individual fights and wherever possible provide assistance and encouragement to additional fundraising efforts.
Like any charity regulated by the charity commission, there are rules which the charity must follow.
The full list of rules can be found at the charity commission web-site, at www.charitycommission.gov.uk but they include things like;
- The trustees being unpaid volunteers
- No-one connected to the charity benefitting from it
- Only doing things that are charitable according to the law, and
- Providing public, up to date information about its activities and finances.
The charity seeks to further this objective through supporting the publication of research in the area of triple negative breast cancer and through producing informative films and events to raise awareness of the disease.
Are you able to provide hope to others?
Understanding Triple negative Breast Cancer
What is triple-negative breast cancer?
About 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers are triple-negative.
Knowing breast cancer basics can help you understand how triple-negative breast cancer is different from other types of breast cancer. Doctors search for the presence or absence of three receptors, proteins that live inside or on the surface of a cell and bind to something in the body to cause the cell to react. You may have heard of the oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
In oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer and HER2 positive breast cancer, treatments prevent, slow or stop cancer growth with medicines that target those receptors. But triple-negative breast cancers need different types of treatments because they are oestrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative and HER2 negative. Medicines like tamoxifen, which targets the oestrogen receptor, and trastuzumab (Herceptin), which targets HER2, are not helpful in treating triple-negative breast cancer. Instead, chemotherapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer.
Researchers are working to improve their understanding of the biology of triple-negative breast cancers, how these types of cancers behave and what puts people at risk for them. Their goals are to find out the best ways to use treatments that already exist and to develop new ones.
Understanding the ‘Basal-like’ Subtype
Most triple-negative breast cancers have a basal-like cell pattern. This term means the cells look like the basal cells that line the breast ducts, the tubes in the breast where milk travels.
Basal-like breast cancers tend to over express, or make too much of, certain genes that encourage cancer growth. Not all triple-negative breast cancers are basal-like, and not all basal-like breast cancers are triple-negative. About 70 to 90 percent of triple-negative breast cancers are basal-like.
Doctors choose treatments because the cancer is triple-negative, not because it is basal-like. The basal status of the cancer does not factor into treatment decisions
Myth About Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
MYTH – Women with triple-negative breast cancer can have the same treatments as all other women with breast cancer.
FACT – Many people do not understand that there are different kinds of breast cancer. Even some women who have had breast cancer do not understand the differences between triple negative breast cancers and breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive or HER2 positive.
Researchers are still learning why some women are more likely than others to develop triple-negative breast cancer. Research supports a relationship between risk and your genes, age, race and ethnicity.
Breast Cancer Gene Mutations
Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which we get from our mother and father. When they work properly, these genes prevent the development of cancers. However, less than 10 percent of people with breast cancer are born with a mutation, or abnormality, in BRCA1 or BRCA2.
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Risk Factors
If you are born with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, you are at increased risk for developing breast, ovarian and other cancers throughout your life. The BRCA1 mutation puts you at higher risk for developing a basal-like breast cancer. Scientists are still trying to find out why BRCA1 mutations increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer. Keep in mind, not all breast cancers from BRCA mutations are triple-negative. In fact, BRCA2 mutations are more likely to be present in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you and your relatives could carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. You could also be the first person in your family known to develop breast cancer because of a BRCA mutation. Knowing your BRCA status can help you and your doctors discuss an effective treatment plan and learn ways to reduce your risk for recurrence. A genetic counsellor can talk with you about genetic testing. Anna was tested and was NOT BRCA positive, but this is important information which can affect treatment options.
Age, Race or Ethnicity
Several studies suggest that being premenopausal, African-American, Latina or Caribbean increases risk of developing basal-like or triple-negative breast cancer. Among African-American women who develop breast cancer, there is an estimated 20 to 40 percent chance of the breast cancer being triple-negative. Researchers do not yet understand why premenopausal women and women in some ethnic groups have higher rates of triple negative breast cancer.