When Trina Reynolds was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2008, her tenacity kicked in.
In her quest to beat the odds, Trina sought second and third opinions. She eventually gained admission to a clinical drug trial for her specific type of breast cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Throughout the course of her illness, Trina realized not everyone was as fortunate as she was. She recognized that many women didn’t have the means to travel for treatment or to seek further opinions.
In 2009, Trina reached out to the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region to establish The Trina Fund. The fund helps female residents of Wisconsin diagnosed with breast cancer receive the best possible care. This includes, but is not limited to, travel to accredited cancer treatment centers throughout the United States.
Trina’s daughter, Hillary Reynolds, remembers the day well.
“It was a very emotional, powerful moment when she signed the check to bring the fund into existence,” Reynolds says. “It was $1,000 and a lot of hope. At the time I don’t think she was framing it as her legacy — that she wouldn’t be here to see it through. She just saw a deep need to help women who were in her position [and] who didn’t have the financial ability to go where they needed to go, to advocate for themselves.”
Over the years, that $1,000 seed has grown more than 100-fold. The Trina Fund has gone on to support 260-plus grants, totaling more than $100,000.
Trina passed away in October 2011 at the age of 49, but her energy lives on through donations from her family, friends, and community events that support The Trina Fund.
“Her fiery spirit shined through her beautiful blue eyes, and that spirit will never be extinguished,” Hillary says. “The Trina Fund is proof of that.”
Many of the grants from The Trina Fund go to women who live in rural areas. When receiving treatment, women may need travel many miles for several weeks. The Trina Fund can help offset the costs for these women. For some patients, it’s the only way they can afford to get to their treatments.
Legacy Lives On
In honor of Trina’s 60th birthday in 2022, the advisers of The Trina Fund — Hillary; her brother, Nick; and Trina’s sister, Kris — chose to make a new gift. The group provided a $10,000 grant to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations to support the development of educational breast cancer videos.
Hillary says she and her family were excited to expand the impact of the fund to include educational resources.
“It resonated deeply with us to help women feel more empowered and confident in choosing their care,” she says. “It was natural for us to support that. The ability to enhance care for women locally definitely fits our mission. That’s what I love about this fund — that it is so local and you can see the impact right away.”
Lydia Gonzalez Ryan, Director of the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center, says the gift will help many women.
“The Trina Fund’s commitment to cancer screening and patient education is enabling ThedaCare to expand our nationally accredited comprehensive breast program,” she says.
With the support of The Trina Fund, ThedaCare Cancer Care will create educational videos for women at high risk for breast cancer, as well as those facing breast cancer concerns.
“Aligned with a woman’s mammogram results and risk assessment, these videos will provide tailored follow-up and therapy recommendations based on nationally recognized guidelines,” Ryan says. “It is empowerment of health and wellness through education.”
ThedaCare is working to increase and deepen cancer screening efforts, Ryan says. The goal is to help women better understand their test results and breast cancer risk level.
“Donors like The Trina Fund and others help us cocoon our patients, to give them care beyond just therapeutic care,” Ryan says. “During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, we’re celebrating the health and wellness of women in this country, and we’re also celebrating the support we can give when the journey may be troublesome, and when the answers may not be clear.”
Likewise, Hillary says she wants women to understand their risk and feel supported.
“The important thing is for women to get screened when it’s appropriate for them based on their age and family history,” she says. “Get that annual checkup. Early detection is key. I just wish my mom would have had that chance.”