Warrior Stories: Elise Rea + BRCA

Each October, we give back by hosting a buy one give one campaign: for every bottle of WINK sold, we donate one to a cancer warrior, to help them get their groove back after chemotherapy. Specifically, we partner with the Breast Cancer Charities of America’s “Feeling Beautiful Again” program, to get WINK directly into warrior’s hands.

In our warrior stories series, we share the stories of these warriors. Today we are sharing the story of Elise Rea, Breast Cancer Warrior. Her story is another powerful example of how your Pink WINK donations are helping breast cancer patients.


Breast cancer has always been a big part of my life, even before my own diagnosis. My mother was first. In late 2013 my mother submitted for the BRCA-1 testing and the results came back positive. I immediately repeated the test that following January and also tested positive for the mutation. My mother was in rehab the very next month dealing with her ongoing cancer issues and only three months after that she had passed away from breast cancer. The impact of her severe health decline and my BRCA-1 positive test was extremely difficult to digest all at once but I know that my mom is now free from physical pain and that she is guiding me through my cancer journey in spirit.


Since being diagnosed with the BRCA-1 mutation I have been diligent in my commitment to annual mammograms, MRI’s and ovarian monitoring. Fast forward to this spring when I noticed an unusual lump in my right breast–just this previous fall the Air Force had assigned my fiancé to the New Jersey AF base as a C-17 pilot. We packed up everything, bought a house in our new town and were adjusting well to our new community. I had noticed the lump about a month out from when I needed to schedule my annual mammogram. So I set about establishing with new doctors. In no way, shape or form did I think that I would have breast cancer before I completed the recommended preventative measures of removing my breasts and ovaries around age 35. But unfortunately in late April I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer at the age of 31.


The financial shift has added a lot of stress on both of us and I don’t know what I would do without my husband’s care as I get through treatment. Recently we were given some fantastic news that my chemo would be reduced by an entire month so now I am tentative for my first double mastectomy surgery with expanders for early December. It’s funny how news like this can become a huge reason to jump up and celebrate but I definitely did a happy dance knowing that my treatment was moving along faster than originally outlined by my oncologist.


Being new to the east coast and having little friends or family support networks can be tough, add in the fact that my husband is called away on missions constantly and it becomes even more difficult to deal with. But I am always impressed with the amount of support that exists within the breast cancer community. I have been able to meet so many wonderful women through my support group and various other channels. Without these extended networks of people–bonded out of diagnosis or bonded out of passion to serve–fighting this battle would be a whole heck of a lot more exhausting. So I want to thank you for your program and all of the help that iGoPink and the Breast Cancer Charities of America have spread across the community!



Ladies, gentlemen: This is where your donations are going. To warriors like Elise Rea, who could really use a small morale boost.

Thank you to all of you who continue to support our October campaign and keep up with our warrior stories. Please consider reading more about the Breast Cancer Charities of America, iGoPink and the Feeling Beautiful Again program. You don’t have to buy Wink, you can donate items, host a drive, or donate money on your own, but please consider supporting them and all the wonderful things they do.

Give back in whatever way makes sense to you, but just make sure you find a way to consciously share your blessings.

Until next time ~

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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