When Trina Reynolds was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2008, her tenacious personality took control. She aggressively sought second and third opinions in her fight to beat her odds. 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.
In the course of her battle, Trina realized not everyone was as fortunate as she to have the financial ability to travel for treatment or to seek further opinions. In 2009, she reached out to the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region to establish The Trina Fund with a vision that transportation should not be a barrier to treatment for any women facing breast cancer.
Her daughter, Hillary Reynolds, remembers that day well.
“It was a very emotional, powerful moment when she signed the check to bring the Fund into existence,” said Reynolds. “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 who didn’t have the financial ability to go where they needed to go, to advocate for themselves.”
Since 2009, The Trina Fund has supported more than 260 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. The Trina Fund is proof of that,” Hillary said.
Many of the grants from The Trina Fund go to women who live in rural areas. For treatment, women may need travel many miles for several weeks, which can add up to expense costs for patient and their family. The Trina Fund can support them in that need. For some patients, it’s the only way they can afford to get to their treatments.
On Trina’s 60th birthday, Hillary, her brother Nick, and Trina’s sister Kris, the advisors of The Trina Fund, elected to make a $10,000 grant to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations to support the development of educational breast cancer videos.
“When we heard there was an opportunity to not only work on advocacy, but also in the educational realm, well, those are just two peas in a pod,” Hillary explained. “It resonated deeply with us to help women feel more empowered and confident in choosing their care. It was natural for us to support that. While the care received was wonderful, it would have been nice to be more predominantly around family during that time. 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.”
“The Trina Fund’s commitment to cancer screening and patient education is enabling ThedaCare to expand our nationally accredited comprehensive breast program,” said Lydia Gonzalez Ryan, RN, MS, Director of the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center. “With the Trina’s fund’s support, we will be creating educational videos for women at higher risk for breast health and 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. It is empowerment of health and wellness through education.”
Ryan noted that ThedaCare’s goal is to grow and deepen our cancer screening efforts. Through these efforts, our ThedaCare Comprehensive Breast Program is enabling every woman to understand their test results, their level of risk, how they should respond to their risk level, then guide them on a very customized treatment path. She added that ThedaCare is using digital technology to expand upon the diagnostic power of mammography, bringing enhanced health and wellness to our communities at large.
“Donors like The Trina Fund and others help us cocoon our patients, to give them care beyond just therapeutic care,” said Ryan. “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. We have a phenomenal interdisciplinary clinical team that can meet women at any point in their journey.”
Trina’s daughter also 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,” said Hillary. “Get that annual checkup. Early detection is key. I just wish my Mom would have had that chance.”
Heart of a Donor Series
This article is part of a planned series featuring generous donors who support the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Donations to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations help fund projects and programs on many levels across the system. If you know a donor, or community organization, who has a connection to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, and believe should be featured in the “Heart of a Donor” series, please email Foundations@thedacare.org.
To learn more about the ThedaCare Family of Foundations and the impact of donor support, please visit ThedaCare.org/Foundations.