GLEN ELLYN – Throughout her fight against breast cancer, Glen Ellyn resident Jean Derrico never felt she was without options.
Today, a cancer-free Derrico is helping to support other women and provide them with those same opportunities by raising more than $5,500 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sept. 22 in Lombard.
“Because of Komen and all the fundraising they’ve done, I had all those options available to me that didn’t exist before Nancy Brinker started Susan G. Komen in memory of her sister,” Derrico said.
This is Derrico’s second year participating in the race with the “GE Force Team,” a group made up of General Electric staff. Derrico works for GE Capital, Rail Services in Chicago.
Derrico raised about $3,200 for last year’s Lombard Race for the Cure. This year, she’s already surpassed her fundraising goal of $1,500 by $4,000.
Derrico was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2010, the day before her daughter’s wedding. She told her husband, Tim, and they decided to keep it quiet from the rest of their family, so they could focus on the happy day.
The breast cancer diagnosis came as a shock to Derrico, who always worried the most about her heart health because of a family history of heart problems.
No one in her family previously had breast cancer, although Derrico since has learned that it is common for people to develop that form of cancer without anyone in their family suffering from it in the past.
Because her cancer was discovered through a monthly self-exam, Derrico encourages other women to perform the same checks and get an annual mammogram.
After her diagnosis, Derrico underwent eight surgeries, beginning with lumpectomies that proved to be insufficient. She then had a mastectomy, but the area became infected during the reconstruction process, so the reconstructive surgery had to be redone.
“That was as low as I was through the whole diagnosis, surgeries,” Derrico said. “I just hit rock bottom.”
The reconstruction was completed in May 2011. Since then, Derrico has had checkups with her doctors, and everything still looks good.
The support she received from family, friends, coworkers and members of her Glen Ellyn church helped her through the months of surgery and recovery.
“I really believe I was just surrounded by angels all the time,” Derrico said.
And the one person who was with her every step of the way was her husband of 41 years, who said it was difficult to see her go through so much.
“If it did anything for us, I think that it probably brought us a lot closer together and made us appreciate each other more,” Tim Derrico said. “As a family, it probably made us a lot stronger, going through it together.”
About Jean Derrico
Residence: Glen Ellyn
Family: Husband, Tim; children, Becky, Jeff and Patrick; son-in-law, Mario; grandson, Enzo
Notable: A breast cancer survivor, Derrico has raised more than $5,500 for this year's Race for the Cure in Lombard.
Activities: Race walking, reading, going to the movies
How to help
To donate to Derrico's Race for the Cure team, visit www.komenchicago.org, go to the "Make a Donation" tab, click on "Race for the Cure," choose the Lombard race and search for "Jean Derrico."