2019 Honoree


The 2019 Race for Research Honoree                 

Hi there, I’m Elissa. If you met me today, you’d see a healthy 30-something year old, happily enjoying her life with her husband and cattle dog in Denver, Colorado. If I told you I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 31, just three years ago, you’d probably be surprised. You’d think, you’re too young or how did you catch it?  Well, I’m sharing my story in hopes that it will inspire you to join the Race for Research, empower you to advocate for your health, and fight for a cure.

 From my personal experience, breast cancer is a disease that isn’t even on our radar until we’re 40. Mammograms, breast health, and family history are all topics that rarely were discussed in my annual appointments. It was me who found the lump, me who was turned away at my first appointment, and me who pushed for further screening. I was eventually diagnosed (four months after my first appointment) with stage 1, triple positive breast cancer.

I feel lucky to live in a state that has some of the best doctors in the country, including my oncologist, Dr. Virginia Borges, who leads breast cancer research out of the University of Colorado, with a focus on women under 40. With her guiding knowledge, expertise, and innate ability to relate, I underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 18 rounds of Herceptin, 15 rounds of radiation, and 3 surgeries. I continue my therapy with a daily dose of Tamoxifen, lots of yoga, and moonlighting as the founder of my own non-profit, Polite Tumor.

Polite Tumor provides financial support to women under 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer so that they can focus on what matters most – healing. We partner directly with providers at UCH and other cancer facilities along the front range in hopes of eventually serving every young woman impacted by breast cancer in the state of Colorado. I’m passionate about giving back to the community that gave so much to me. The ability to support patients at the same facility where I was treated has been a truly transformative experience.

Breast cancer in young adults is different – it’s more aggressive, it impacts our ability to have a family, be intimate, and think about our future in the way most young people have the freedom to do. We move forward with the hope that one day we won’t live in fear, one day, there will be a cure. I’m grateful to be this year’s Race for Research Honoree, and for the incredible opportunity to raise awareness around the power of research.

Please join me on Sunday, August 18 at the Race for Research in Washington Park, Denver so that together we can raise money for the Cancer League of Colorado, an organization that is dedicated to supporting and furthering cancer research performed in Colorado.

Elissa Brown, right, with her oncologist Dr. Virginia Borges of the University of Colorado Health Science Center.