HER2+ breast cancer affects approximately 20 to 30 per cent of breast cancer patients, which means that right now, upwards of 5,000 women in Canada are fighting this devastating disease.
In a woman with HER2+ breast cancer, the gene which provides the code for the HER2 protein has been amplified, resulting in excess amounts of HER2. This excess of HER2 can lead to uncontrolled or malignant cellular growth and the development of cancer.
It demands special attention because the tumours are typically fast-growing, and there is a high likelihood of the cancer coming back. Women with HER2+ breast cancer may also be less likely to respond to certain breast cancer treatments.
The HER2 gene is not hereditary, which means that HER2 status is not passed down from your parents, and you can't pass it on to your children. However, there is a relationship between the genes in a person's DNA and breast cancer in general.
Women affected by HER2+ breast cancer face serious challenges in maintaining their quality of life and improving their chances of survival, but there is hope. Although a diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy can all make a difference.
Sharing the story of being diagnosed and living with HER2+ breast cancer can help women to cope with the emotional burden of the experience, and the knowledge that they are not alone in their fight can be a source of strength and courage. TellHER2 is designed to foster these healing activities, giving women a forum to tell their story and connecting them with one another and with a wide network of supporters.