It’s disease-omics. Transcriptomics is the process in which DNA is copied to RNA. Proteome refers to the protein molecules within an organism. Microbiome consists of the combined genomes of all the microorganisms that live on and in our bodies.
Becky is a senior scientist in biotechnology, and she understands all of these terms. She doesn’t understand, however, why there isn’t a better cancer treatment than chemotherapy. “It’s a scorched-earth tactic,” she says. “Basically, the whole body is sickened in order to get rid of the offending biology. With everything we know about biochemistry today, why isn’t there something better?”
Becky is familiar with chemotherapy because she watched her mother, Constance, battle ovarian cancer in the early 1990s. Doctors tried different chemotherapy treatments, some of which were quite harsh. The cancer was relentless however. Becky says, “My mom won every battle, but after five years she lost the war. I know she wanted to live more.”
Determined to ride
Growing up on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Becky remembers being scared of falling off a bicycle initially. She would see other kids riding around the neighborhood without training wheels, and she wanted to do it too. One day, she had the gumption to get on a bike and ride, and she’s never looked back. Bicycling became one of her favorite things to do and a primary way of commuting during graduate school, in postdoctoral work and to her workplace.
In 2011, Becky participated in Pelotonia, a two-day bike tour through central Ohio, for the first time. She rode the 50-mile route the first year, and then she trained and rode the 100-mile route the next four years. During each ride, she wore an amulet that belonged to her mother, and after each ride, she took a picture of her odometer to send to her family. She says, “I was so proud. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being an athlete! I’m not fast, so it was exciting to go far.”
Scared of the bad news
Becky took a break from participating in Pelotonia beginning in 2016. She wasn’t able to workout and train for the 100-mile ride due to other commitments.
“I was approaching my mom’s age when she was diagnosed with cancer. For nearly 25 years, I would drag my heels and put off health screenings for as long as possible,” she says. “I was scared. You can only get good news or bad news. I didn’t want the bad news.”
In 2022, Becky was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the news she had most feared, but she felt relieved that she had an answer.
As she prepared for a mastectomy, Becky requested a BRCA gene test and later found out that she had the BRCA2 marker, which gives her the higher chance of both ovarian and breast cancer. She opted for a bilateral mastectomy and later had her ovaries removed in order to prevent these cancers in the future.
Becky is happy to report that she is cancer free.
Get a cancer screening
Becky will be riding the 24-mile route during Pelotonia on August 5. She has raised over $9,000 for this nonprofit organization since her first ride in 2011. All of the funds she has raised have gone directly to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
She says, “When I think of the contributions to scientific research, I think of Louis Pasteur and everyone else who’s had a breakthrough that has helped us to live longer. Cancer and chemotherapy are simply next. I work with plant DNA as part of my job, which helps me understand the direction that cancer research may be going. I’m interested in learning more, though, and I hope that the money raised by Pelotonia will help people down the road.”
Lastly, she adds, “I want to share a message with everyone: Don’t let fear keep you from any health or cancer screenings. Get screened early and often. A screening caught my cancer early enough to give me a lot of good chances. I am going to take what time I have and be as happy and as healthy as possible.”
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