Komen Wisconsin's Executive Director announces breast cancer has returned

NOW: Komen Wisconsin’s Executive Director announces breast cancer has returned

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Komen Wisconsin's Blue Jeans and Bling Gala is raising money to provide vital breast cancer services in our community.

This year, the event is taking on special meaning.

Executive Director, Nikki Panico, is sharing some personal news with us. Last fall, she found out her breast cancer had returned.

Here in Southeast Wisconsin, we're used to seeing Nikki Panico as the biggest cheerleader in the fight against breast cancer.

"I want women to know you are not alone. That there is support," she said.

From the More Than Pink Walk each fall, to events and interviews, Panico has been spreading the word about breast cancer awareness and resources for 13 years as executive director.

"When I started with Komen, I had been a breast cancer survivor for one year. And I had lost my mom and my aunt to the disease,"

Her passion comes from personal experience.

"It is nothing any cancer survivor ever wants to hear," Panico said.

She discovered her breast cancer had returned.

"I had noticed under my breast some changes, right where the scar tissue was from my first mastectomy," she said.

Last summer, Panico had been part of Team Phoenix, which is a program that trains cancer survivors to complete a triathlon.

"I initially thought no, that's just from the exercise," she recalled.

But the symptoms persisted, and she got it checked.

"I had surgery in December to remove my left breast for the second time," she said.

Panico just completed radiation, and she's looking forward to Friday's gala.

"This gala will be really special for me. I haven't been out and about too much since November," she said.

Sharing this latest step in her story to raise awareness for other women- to get screened and listen to their bodies.

"I don't want to alarm; I don't want to scare anyone. But I want women to advocate for themselves," she said.

Panico has more treatment ahead- but says she feels lucky to have the support of Komen behind her.

Komen Wisconsin provides financial assistance, education and resources right here in southeast Wisconsin.

For more information, click here. 

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