The Kimball Family Foundation... Why?

Although the gene known as BRCA1 is relativity new to our family, we are now aware that our bad gene goes back many generations.

Our wake up call came when our second oldest daughter, Cindy, age 30, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. At that time, we were told her diagnosis was probably environmentally sourced. Dr. Eric Winer, her oncologist, then at Duke University, recommended the following course of action for Cindy to take: first a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy then radiation and concluding with Tamoxifin.

As her parents, you can imagine how horrible this was to watch. However, it turned out this was only our first challenge with BRCA1.

A few years later, our middle daughter, Kristy, also discovered a lump. Even though her doctors said the biopsy looked okay, the pathology report said "breast cancer". Thus, Kristy underwent a bilateral mastectomy; reconstruction surgery, a hysterectomy, and chemotherapy (keep in mind that both Cindy and Kristy were in their early thirties).

Due to their early cancer diagnosis, Dr. Winer suggested they test for the BRCA1 gene. Consequently, they did so with the best test available at the time yet, the results were negative! The only conclusion at that time was that they must have been exposed to something in the environment that triggered the breast cancer.

That all changed in late fall/early spring of 2001/2002. Now it was our oldest daughter, Wendi, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and who also had to endure the surgeries and treatments. We as parents, and as a family, wondered, what was going on?

Dr. Winer now of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, had been concerned all along that there was more going on. He told our family that a new genetic test for BRAC1 was available and suggested that all five of our daughters be tested. In the fall of 2002, we found out that the old test results gave us a false negative and, in actuality, all five girls tested positive for the BRAC1 gene under this new version of the test.

Since then our fourth daughter, Tammy, although showing no symptoms, but because she tested positive for BRCA1 --which, consequently, raised her chances of getting breast cancer-- elected to have a bilateral mastectomy as a preventive measure.

Jennifer, our youngest, goes regularly for her check ups and is watching very close.

As mentioned already, we, as parents, endured, along with the girls, as we watched them go through these surreal situations. Yet, out of adversary came hope.

In the fall of 2004, we decided to form the Kimball Family Foundation with a two fold purpose. First, to help educate families with a heredity gene mutation. Second, to help fund research --especially genetic research-- so that we can do some small part in finding a cure for this horrific disease. We cannot change what has happened to our daughters, but maybe we can be a part of finding a cure. Dr. Winer often shares his dream that one day soon he will be able to prescribe a pill and make breast cancer, and maybe all cancers, go away. How wonderful that day will be. We believe it is close.

In the meantime, we undoubtedly need contributions to fund the tests for the many individuals that have requested financial assistance and to aid in providing the much needed funds for breast cancer research. After all, research is the answer not only for our family, but also for the fight against breast cancer that affects so many other families as well.

As our foundation grows so will our goals.

Blessings and love,
Shelby and Don Kimball