PSJA ISD middle school principal reflects on breast cancer battle

4 months 2 weeks 3 days ago Wednesday, October 04 2023 Oct 4, 2023 October 04, 2023 11:34 PM October 04, 2023 in News - Heart of the Valley

Having lost family members to breast cancer, the month of October always hit close to home for Erica Vecchio.

This year, it's become even more personal.

“It's just very different this time, having to have gone through it myself,” Vecchio said.

Vecchio remembers the moment she discovered her diagnosis last December after putting off her yearly checkups.

“Us women tend to put that aside; we don't want to miss work,” Vecchio said. “We want to make sure we're there for everybody else, and we don't look after ourselves."

After getting tests done, Vecchio said she was referred to an oncologist at DHR Health. 

After getting a mammogram, a tumor was found. Vecchio was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. She was also HER2-positive, meaning the disease spreads quickly.

She began treatment right away at MD Anderson in Houston

“They were very aggressive with my treatment,” Vecchio recalled. “They started it right away. Everything else that was going on with me was put on the back burner because they couldn't do two types of treatment in case I did have something wrong with my bone marrow."

The effects of her treatment were strong, leaving her unable to work as principal at Stephen F. Austin Middle School. 

After months of traveling to Houston for treatment, Vecchio's tumor was removed.

Precancer was found around her tumor, Vecchio said.

She's currently going through immunotherapy and a form of chemotherapy through injections at DHR Health.

Vecchio is also back walking the halls of Stephen F. Austin Middle School, where her work family is also showing their support.

Vecchio said she's staying strong for her family, her friends, and herself. She’s now turning her fight against cancer into a purpose to spread a message.

“Prevent this,” Vecchio said. “Go every year so that you could be on top of it. Don't wait for symptoms. Don't wait for you to feel different."

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