Although the K.I.C.K sisters’ journeys are different, their passion to help others is united and driven. They are deeply committed to telling their story and raising awareness around genetic testing and early detection. What started as fear, ended in power. Knowing their risk saved their lives.
You have the Power Today to Change Tomorrow
Katie, who lives in Maryland with her husband of 20 years and 2 sons, was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 12, 2017, after a routine mammogram found 3 irregular spots that were described as the size of grains of sand. The biopsy revealed stage 0 breast cancer and initially a lumpectomy and radiation was recommended. Katie and Colleen’s paternal aunt sadly died of ovarian cancer in 2000, and when Katie questioned the breast surgeon on a possible link, he belittled the importance of this information. That’s when Katie decided she needed a second opinion and headed to Dr. Michael Schultz at St. Joes in Towson, MD. One of the first questions he asked was whether or not there was any breast or ovarian cancer in her family history. She told Dr. Schultz about her Aunt Carol’s battle with ovarian cancer, and he didn’t hesitate in ordering genetic testing that very day, followed by a meeting with a genetic counselor. Thankfully, Dr. Schultz saw the importance of genetic testing, and this was a game changer for the Kickel sisters.
A few weeks later, while sipping cocktails poolside the day before Colleen’s wedding, the genetic counselor called Katie to inform her she indeed tested positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. As a result, the path of treatment shifted from a lumpectomy and radiation to a radical bilateral mastectomy (with immediate reconstruction) with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO). And on December 8th, 2017, Katie underwent a long 7 hour surgery to rid her body of cancer and drastically reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer.
You have the power today to change tomorrow
Months after having a baby on May 24th, 2019, Colleen made the brave decision to be tested for the BRCA mutation. By that time it was known that Katie and Colleen’s dad was the carrier, and there is a 50% chance of passing it to each child. Colleen found out that she, too, carried the BRCA genetic mutation. Due to their Aunt Carol’s diagnosis of ovarian cancer at such a young age and the lack of proper screening to detect ovarian cancer, she opted to do a hysterectomy first, before a mastectomy.
On March 2, 2020, Colleen checked into the hospital for her preventive, elective hysterectomy performed by Dr. Kristine Zinotti of University Hospitals. The surgery was routine and everything looked good to the naked eye. But, because of the BRCA mutation, Dr. Zinotti coded Colleen’s pathology specifically for those affected by the mutation. Colleen bounced back quickly and returned to work within a week. This was the same week the COVID pandemic shut down most of what we know. On March 17, 2020 Colleen went to her two week follow up appointment and heard the dreaded words “Now, we need to talk about your pathology”. In the specialized pathology, which was only performed due to her mutation, they had found STAGE ONE ovarian cancer! Because of poor screening options, this staging only occurs in 10% of ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Colleen completed three rounds of chemotherapy and handled the treatment well. She rocked the bald head with the help of stylish scarves and fun earrings and kept her positive attitude throughout! Her last treatment was May 19th, 2020 and then continued an oral chemotherapy drug for 1 year.
With ovarian cancer in the rear-view, Colleen underwent a preventive double mastectomy and reconstruction on Tuesday, October 1, 2020. The surgery was a great success and the pathology came back CANCER FREE this time!
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K.I.C.K. Genetic Testing
Our goal is to have funded 600 tests by June of 2024, which will double the number of tests we have funded to date!
Given our patient’s lack of resources, without KICK’s assistance, she would not have been able to undergo genetic testing. She was thrilled when I
Allie Hentschell, MS, CGC
You met my wife and I briefly following the OROC this past August. You both were absolutely wonderful. Hearing your stories and message left
P.N., Spouse of patient
Your foundation was instrumental in helping one of my uninsured patients access critical genetic testing. She has been diagnosed with early-onset Colon Cancer and
Karlena Lara-Otero, PhD, MS, CGC.
Certified Genetic Counselor
I cannot find the words to express my gratitude for the financial assistance..I am sooo looking forward to having the testing. I