Leslie was born and raised in Worthington, Indiana. She attended Purdue University and earned degrees in Computer Science and Industrial Management, and was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. She also obtained her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is both a proud Boilermaker and a Tar Heel.
Leslie previously worked as a computer programmer and printed circuit board production supervisor at Data General in Massachusetts and North Carolina. She also worked as a Global Product Manager at United Technologies Carrier in Syracuse, New York, and a Business Development Manager at DEK Printing Machines in Weymouth, England.
Stage IV Lobular Breast Cancer
Leslie was diagnosed with Stage IV lobular breast cancer in November 2017, when abnormalities were found during a routine bone density scan. (learn more details)
Unfortunately, her cancer was not visible on either a mammogram or a sonogram, as would often be the case with lobular cancer hiding in dense breast tissue. This is not a failure of anyone, but it is simply a failure of the current technology.
And now, along with all of her current work, Leslie seeks to make a positive impact in advancing the next major breakthrough in breast cancer screening, so MORE women with breast cancer become SURVIVORS. Fundraising during her Camino de Santiago walk in the fall of 2018 will be her first means to that end.
The REAL reason
This is about the REAL reason I am walking the Camino. I am currently in Leon, about 1/2 way through, and would love to share my story.
In November of last year I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. My cancer was not visible on either a mammogram or an ultrasound.
Many people, here and at home, have asked me WHY I am doing the Camino. My answer depends on how much I want to get into it, and how deep of a conversation I really want to have, or if there is time to explain. So sometimes I just say: for the adventure, to do something cool, for spiritual or religious reasons, or even to satisfy the slightly independent wild hair I have always had. All of these answers are true actually.
But my REAL WHY is much more than that.
It’s about that thing nobody wants to talk about. It’s about that thing we all dance around. It’s about that 40,000 number. It’s that 40,000 women per year die of breast cancer in the US. Just imagine what the worldwide figure must be.
My REAL WHY is about kids without moms, grandkids without grandmas, and widowers without wives. It’s about careers unfinished, potential not met, and dreams not realized. It’s about lives cut short, and all of the hurt that goes with that.
My college sorority sister and roommate, Toni Mark, died about a week ago from breast cancer. She was hilariously funny, very smart, a good leader, and incredibly musically talented. She was taken way too soon. Those of us that lived with her will miss her always. She was also a great mom to two teenage kids and a loving wife. What a loss on many many fronts. I am sure her family is devastated.
To think this happens 40,000 times over every year is heartbreaking.
To think that there is a way to detect MANY more breast cancers earlier when they are curable, that is FDA approved and commercially available, but is not available to most women is unfathomable.
That’s WHY I am funding a study on a new breast cancer screening technology at the Mayo Clinic as I walk, that will detects 363% more cancers in women with dense breast tissue, and about 70% of premenopausal women have that!
So that is my REAL WHY for doing the Camino. So there can be more kids with moms, more grandkids with grandmas, and less widowers without wives. So careers can be finished, so potential can be met, and dreams given a chance. This is my REAL WHY.
The PROMISE Study
Leslie is participating in the PROMISE study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN.
(Read about PROMISE on the Mayo Clinic Website here.)
The PROMISE study uses patient derived xenografts to carefully study new drugs in the laboratory using the cancer cells that were derived from women that did and did not respond to the current standard or care treatment for metastatic breast cancer. The goal of this study is to identify the molecular underpinnings of patient responses to current treatments and change the way we care for people with metastatic breast cancer.
There is a great medical need for new metastatic breast cancer treatment strategies. Benefactor gifts allow Mayo Clinic to accelerate metastatic breast cancer research through an individualized, comprehensive approach of tumor sequencing, patient derived xenografts and clinical care. This will allow Mayo experts to focus their efforts on obtaining critical information necessary to advance precise, personally-tailored therapies.
Donations are graciously accepted for this study also.
Learn more at www.walkthewaywithher.com.