CARLISLE, Pa. — Regina Sellman opened a hardcover notebook and flipped to the middle page, where her mother’s last note to her was written in cursive.
“I know this isn’t going to be easy, but if you could find a way to get all the breast cancer organizations to take Stage 4 triple-negative breast cancers seriously for a cure,” Regina read from the note.
Pat Sellman, Regina’s mother, was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50. She received chemotherapy treatment and went into remission.
Ten years later, the cancer came back.
Her second diagnosis was a different and rare type of breast cancer, though, called “triple-negative.” The name comes from the cancer cells lacking two hormones and a protein often seen in breast cancer.
Regina and Pat went to several doctors and cancer conferences. Each time they heard the same response from doctors: that there just wasn’t much research or good treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer.
“At the time, it was not really researched. It wasn’t really communicated that there are different types of breast cancer,” Regina said.
Triple-negative breast cancer is known to be more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer. Once spread to distant parts of the body, it has a 12% 5-year survival rate.
Pat’s second diagnosis was Stage 4, meaning it had spread to distant parts of the body. She died about two years later, in 2020.
In the spring of 2022, Regina announced she would run a half marathon. She ran cross country and track and field in high school and college and continues running with a local Carlisle group.
She said running was a bond she shared with her mom because Pat would drive her to all her meets.
Regina chose to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon Race because of her family’s Philly roots. The 13.1-mile-long race on Saturday winds through Philadelphia’s Old City, Center City and West Philadelphia.
So far, she has raised nearly $3,000 for the American Association of Cancer Research. Regina hopes the run also raises awareness of triple-negative breast cancer.
She said she was more nervous about the emotional aspect of the race than the physical one.
“Just being in her city, where she grew up, running for an organization supporting what she battled through is just, it’s going to be great,” she said. “I’m hoping to make her proud.”
For those interested in donating, Regina’s marathon fundraiser can be found here.