Trish Riley

Trish with George, her husband of nearly 30 years, and their two sons, Michael (L) and Charlie (R)

Trish with George, her husband of nearly 30 years, and their two sons, Michael (L) and Charlie (R)

“In 1996, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my own journey began then,” explains Trish Riley. That year, Trish began having annual mammograms, at age 35, and has since, never missed an exam. Then, in 2006, Trish’s mother received the devastating news that her cancer had returned.

After Trish went for her annual mammogram in February 2014, she received a call that the technician wanted her to come back for more pictures of her right breast. “I wasn’t alarmed by that,” says Trish. “It really wasn’t out of the ordinary, as I had been asked to come back numerous times, but this time was different. On February 21, 2014, I received my diagnosis — triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma.”

Due to the proximity of the cancer to Trish’s chest wall, the decision was made to perform surgery, and on March 23 a double mastectomy was performed. The post-op pathology results reinforced that surgery was a great choice: cancer was found in both breasts and one lymph node. Surgery was just the first step in Trish’s treatment, as 18 rounds of chemotherapy began after her surgery.“

During my chemo, I visited a genetic counselor,” says Trish. “When my mom was first diagnosed, genetic counseling was never mentioned. I believe it is so important to have genetic counseling, and I wish I would have done it earlier.” Trish’s genetic testing results showed that she had inherited a mutated BRCA1 gene. Roughly 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, but for women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation, that percentage increases to a 55–65 percent risk.1 In addition, approximately 1.3 percent of the general population will develop ovarian cancer, but women with a BCRA1 mutation see that number surge to a staggering 39 percent. 2, 3

While Trish was undergoing chemotherapy in September 2014, her mom received her third cancer diagnosis, stage four ovarian cancer. Trish’s chemo treatments ended in October 2014, and in December, she opted for a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy procedure to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Then, in January 2015, Trish started the last phase of her treatment: radiation.“

I’ve been through a lot,” says Trish. “And when there is yet another treatment, it’s nice to know the people at Mount Nittany Health are such caring individuals. Everyone at the Shaner Cancer Pavilion was phenomenal. They always had a smile on their faces. They have such high-end specialists on staff, and all the technology I needed was right here in our small town of State College. I wouldn’t go anywhere else — there is no reason to!”

Trish credits Jerome Derdel, MD, Mount Nittany Health director of radiation oncology, and Angelica Kline, PA-C, along with the rest of the staff at the Shaner Cancer Pavilion, with making her feel comfortable and hopeful throughout her radiation treatments. Trish has now been cancer-free for more than two years, and she knows it took the efforts and support of many to get her to where she is today. “My loving family and so many people in our great community reached out to help me,” she says. “Knowing that Mount Nittany Health has all the specialists and innovative technology I needed, put me at ease. Seeing the compassionate, caring staff in action at the Shaner Cancer Pavilion made me feel like everything would be OK.”

1.Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2011, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2013 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2014.

2.Antoniou A, Pharoah PD, Narod S, et al. Average risks of breast and ovarian cancer associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations detected in case series unselected for family history: A combined analysis of 22 studies. American Journal of Human Genetics 2003; 72(5):1117–1130. [PubMed Abstract]

3. Chen S, Parmigiani G. Meta-analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2 penetrance. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2007; 25(11):1329–1333. [PubMed Abstract]

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