New Technology Helps Cancer Survivor Keep Her Hair – Through Albie Aware

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Nubia Odich

Nubia Odich hopes the third time’s a charm. Over seven years, she has endured three diagnoses of breast cancer. The third time, Nubia turned to Albie Aware with a special request. First, here’s her story.

Nubia, who has worked at the school district for 20 years, is a firm believer in annual mammograms. Especially since her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 60.

The Long and Winding Road

In 2012, at age 52, she felt a lump and went in for a mammogram. The diagnosis was stage 3 cancer. “I was scared and confused,” says Nubia. After her cancer was treated with chemotherapy and radiation, she thought she was in the clear. But in 2017, the cancer came back and this time she decided to undergo a double mastectomy.

With the surgery, the odds were now in Nubia’s favor. According to the National Cancer Institute, a double mastectomy (bilateral prophylactic mastectomy) for a person with a strong family history of breast cancer has up to a 90 percent reduced risk of recurrence.

Despite the low risk, Nubia again received a painful diagnosis of breast cancer in 2019, this time it was stage 2. Nubia sought a second opinion at the University of San Francisco and after consulting with her team of doctors, friends, and family, agreed to chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation. “This whole process hasn’t been easy,” says Nubia. “But I’m hanging in there and am feeling very positive that this time is the cure.”

Nubia is not sure she would have made it through the ordeal without the love and support of her family and organizations such as Albie Aware. She also credits the Nurse Navigators at Dignity Health for guiding her through the process. 

Pictured with her dear friend and supporter, Theresa Heath

Of the nurses, she says, “Their help and support were very valuable back then and now. They are amazing.”

Nurse Navigators Provide Supportive Care

According to Dignity Health Cancer Institute, its Nurse Navigation program is the only one of its kind in the Greater Sacramento area. The Dignity Health website describes the program: “You may feel overwhelmed by the journey ahead of you, involving many specialists and procedures. This is where our nurse navigators come in, guiding you through the process and supporting you every step of the way.”

How is Albie Aware helping Nubia through her most recent journey? Nubia describes her request, “I contacted Albie Aware and asked if they could help me pay for DigniCap treatment. They enthusiastically agreed to provide the financial assistance I needed. It is amazing, that they would do this for me.”

DigniCap Reduces Hair Loss

DigniCap is a new FDA approved technology to combat the loss of hair associated with chemotherapy. As DigniCap describes it, the psychological effects of hair loss go far beyond vanity. Losing one’s hair is a highly visible and a constant reminder of the disease. An optimistic attitude is important during cancer treatment and hair loss may undermine a patient’s self-image and their confidence in a positive outcome.

The system works by cooling the scalp. Cooling reduces blood flow to the scalp so that less chemotherapy reaches the hair cells.

Discovering New Ways to Make a Difference

It was very important to Nubia that she not suffer hair loss, and if it was important to Nubia, it was important to Albie Aware. After all, hadn’t she suffered enough? Her insurance would not cover the DigniCap treatment, so Albie Aware helped secure the funding.

“We are so pleased to be able to support Nubia in this way,” says Amanda Nelson, Albie Aware Executive Director. “Our mission is to help men and women in the Sacramento area as they are dealing with a breast cancer diagnoses… in any way we can!”

Nubia’s family has been there for her every step of the way, and she wants women to know that there is also a lot of support available in the community. “I would tell other women to be strong, never give up. You are not alone in this process. Organizations such as Albie Aware are there to help you,”  says Nubia. “I am very grateful for their support. Thank you Albie Aware!”

Sources:

National Cancer Institute – Surgery to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

DIGNICAP

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