The Edmond Sun

November 16, 2013

Family, friends rally around local with rare type of breast cancer

By Heather Moery
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Edmond family, friends and coworkers of Jamie Duque, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Stage 3 triple negative breast cancer in September, are raising money to benefit Duque and her family.

Betty Lorenz, Rachel Rhodes and Samantha Brasses organized a website page on YouCaring.com, which shares Duque’s story and updates on her treatments and allows people to donate money to Duque.

“We are all in this together,” said Rhodes, Duque’s good friend. “We just don’t have to go through the physical part like Jamie does.”

Although it states on the website that “Duque asks for nothing more than love, prayers and support during this time, the tests and treatments necessary for a cure will create a financial burden on Duque and her family.”

“Unfortunately, cancer is not considerate of times of financial hardship and simply does not care about bad timing,” the biography reads.

So far, $1,580 has been raised for Duque from the website. The overall goal is $20,000. To donate to Duque, visit http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/jamie-s-journey-fundraiser/98138.

In addition to the website, family, friends and coworkers of Duque’s have organized other fundraisers to assist the family.

Rhodes’ niece is organizing a basketball tournament with the Women’s Minority Association at Oklahoma State University, which will occur sometime in February. Duque will be at the event and will share her story at the awards presentation. As more details become available, Rhodes said they will post the event information on the YouCaring.com website for Duque.

Duque’s workplace, My Dentist in Edmond, recently made T-shirts to sell. The $3,500 raised from T-shirt sales benefited Duque and her family. Rhodes said they sold out of the T-shirts, which said, “Duque’s Divas Kicking Cancer One Diva Step At A Time.” Employees at My Dentist wear their shirts to work every Wednesday in honor of Duque.

“Jamie is so strong,” Rhodes said. “This woman … even though she was told she had a rare form of cancer and it’s in her lymph nodes … she didn’t shed a tear. She stayed at work. She’s very different, but in a good way.”

Duque said she feels so blessed for everyone trying to help her and her family.

“It’s so humbling,” Duque said. “You don’t really know who your true friends are until you’re going through something like this. I can’t even express in words the gratitude I have.”

According to her biography, on Sept. 17, the day after Duque’s 37th birthday, Duque went in for a mammogram for what she thought may be a benign tumor like her mother once had. After viewing her results, Duque’s doctor immediately ordered an ultrasound and biopsy. She was diagnosed the very next day with Stage 3 triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form that only occurs in 15 percent to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. Duque found out she has cancer in her lymph nodes as well.

Since her diagnosis, Duque has received three mammograms, several ultrasounds, three biopsies, two MRIs, numerous blood tests, an echocardiogram, a PET scan and the surgical placement of a port for her chemotherapy injections.

Results from the PET scan revealed an area of concern on her left ovary and an ultrasound detected two masses. A biopsy was performed and her ovary was removed, however, no cancer was detected.

Duque said she was worried her cancer had spread more, but the doctor’s proactive approach put her at ease.

“We are very blessed we are here and having Mercy,” Duque said.

Duque began chemotherapy two weeks ago. She will receive treatments for five months. Once chemotherapy is completed, she will undergo a mastectomy and radiation treatment.

On Nov. 13, Duque said her hair was beginning to fall out and she would likely shave her head that day.

“Today might have to be the day I shave my head,” Duque said. “We are just trying to keep our kids involved with it and keep communication open with them and keep them comfortable with expressing their feelings with it. They really wanted a picture with mom with a mohawk.”

“She is just trying to get through today ... she didn’t think she would lose her hair so soon,” Rhodes said.

To be proactive against the disease, Duque, as well as her family, friends and coworkers, attended the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure, which is an education and fundraising event for breast cancer, in Oklahoma City in October.

Duque will be featured in Molly McMillan’s Bravery Photo Shoot. McMillan, a photographer from Colorado, will be flying to Oklahoma throughout Duque’s five months of treatments to do the feature.