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Young Cancer Survivor Brandy Villere Is Living Proof of a Mother’s Resilience

Publication: The Dallas Morning News

by David Buice, Belo Content Studio
Brandy Villere’s life was so on track. A former high school and collegiate basketball player, she entered her 30s having just met Michael, her new boyfriend, and established a rewarding career with an educational software company.

And then she discovered a lump in her right breast.

At first, Brandy tried to convince herself that it was nothing more than a strained muscle suffered while doing some heavy lifting work at her mother’s house. But when the suspected strain did not go away, Brandy decided to undergo an initial round of tests under the supervision of her primary care physician in January 2015.

When Her Fear Became a Reality

Brandy’s lump was not the result of a minor injury. Nor was it a benign cyst, as Brandy had hoped. Test results instead revealed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, the most common form of breast cancer.

Brandy’s physician referred her to Texas Oncology, where, she came under the care of Dr. Cindy Osborne, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology—Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. Because of Brandy’s relatively young age (33), Dr. Osborne and her colleagues decided on a regimen of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation.

Taking Family Planning Into Consideration

While she was more than ready to take up the fight against cancer, Brandy’s acceptance of this plan was contingent upon one thing. She insisted on having a dozen of her eggs harvested first. Brandy was not going to let the disease stop her from becoming a mother.

Dr. Osborne supported Brandy’s decision. “Patients should be encouraged to discuss their fertility desires,” she explains. “In many cases, though not all, egg harvest can be accomplished expediently with minimal impact on breast cancer or treatment.”

In the months that followed, Brandy continued to work full-time while enduring six rounds of chemotherapy. Her mother and Michael remained steadfastly by her side, forming what she calls “a rock of support” that got her through her most trying times. “Thanks to them,” she admits, “I realized that I have an inner strength that I never knew I had.”

At the end of July 2015, Brandy underwent a double mastectomy, followed by 33 rounds of radiation and several weeks of infusion therapy with Herceptin, a drug that helps slow or stop the growth of breast cancer for both early and late-stage breast cancer patients.

For Brandy, her recovery officially began almost a year later, in February 2016. Vital to the process was a proposal from Michael. By May, they were married.

Becoming a Mother

By late 2016, after giving her body a little more time to heal, Brandy and Michael decided to proceed with starting a family. Unfortunately, they were not initially successful. Brandy was unable to conceive, so she and Michael turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF), using some of the eggs she had preserved before beginning her treatment.

After several early failures, Brandy became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy daughter, Brielle Elizabeth, in May 2018. She and Michael are planning to have another baby soon, making sure that Brielle doesn’t grow up an only child.

Advocating for Future Young Patients

Brandy admits that by nature she has always been a private person. In fact, thanks to the cold cap therapy that significantly minimized her hair loss from chemotherapy, many of her colleagues never realized she was fighting breast cancer. But Brandy is now motivated to tell her story and encourage other young women of childbearing age confronting diagnoses similar to hers. “If I can get just one young woman to ask the right questions about her treatment and fertility options, my speaking out publicly will have been worth it,” she says.

Texas Oncology offers a broad array of treatment options, with specialists dedicated to providing patients and their loved ones with exceptional cancer treatment and care. For more information about cancer and fertility, visit www.texasoncology.com/cancerblood-disorders/cancer-facts/fertility-and-cancer.

Read the full story at The Dallas Morning News.

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