Inspired by Karen Krieger’s tremendous battle with cancer, made worse by the BRCA1 gene she carried.
Karen Krieger, a beloved member of the lighting industry, courageously battled first breast cancer and then ovarian cancer before her passing on September 30, 2021. Karen, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a co-worker and a friend inspired a group of colleagues and friends to make a difference in cancer research, specifically in BRCA research, in honor of her daughter and son who she hoped will live in a world without cancer.
With the help of Karen’s colleagues and friends, The H Foundation will continue to make a difference in basic science cancer research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University through supporting BRCA Research. All funds raised by Karen’s friends & colleagues will be earmarked to support this specific research and anyone that would like to make a difference specifically in BRCA cancers—most notably breast and ovarian cancer, but also several additional types of cancer.Donate to BRCA basic science cancer research to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Karen's Full Story and How Her Fight is Not Over
Karen Krieger learned she had breast cancer in the middle of a sales meeting in June 2019. She excused herself, took the call from her doctor, and received the news, she took a breath and went back in. The next day she flew home to meet with her medical team and begin the process of dealing with cancer.
At the time of her diagnosis, things could not have been better for Karen. She and her husband Brad were great partners in life and in business. They had a beautiful, precocious 18-month-old daughter, Alice, that they adored and a wonderful extended family and many dear friends. Life was good.
Though the news was scary and devastating to Karen and all those that loved her, no one had any doubt that Karen would beat it. Karen was otherwise heathy, fitness and healthy living were part of her everyday life. She was strong.
What Karen didn’t know then was that she carried the BRCA1 gene. This wasn’t a straightforward case of breast cancer, it would be a long and tough road.
Karen beat breast cancer – after months of chemo and a radical, double mastectomy breast cancer was behind her. Everyone was elated and relieved – looking forward.
Because of the BRCA1 gene her doctors strongly advised a prophylactic hysterectomy. When they performed this surgery they found microscopic bits of cancer. The process started again, a second surgery to get clear margins, more chemo. Through it all Karen was her badass self, going to the gym even on chemo days, taking care of her family, working full time and staying positive.
Finally, in the late summer of 2020 Karen was given the all clear – she and Brad could move on with their lives. One of the first things Karen and Brad wanted to do was to give Alice a sibling. They had reserved fertilized eggs at the beginning of the process and began looking for a gestational carrier.
In January of 2021 the implant took and they happily awaited their second child. In May Karen started feeling unwell, pain in her back that became worse and worse. The cancer was back and it was spreading quickly – she would need to begin treatments again immediately.
Karen battled cancer for the third time through the summer, it was brutal. On September 1, 2021 the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do. The cancer was too aggressive and the treatments could not control it.
On September 30th Karen passed away with Brad at her side.
On October 9th, the son Karen had so joyfully waited for, Braxton, was born.
Karen’s fight isn’t over – her precious Alice also carries the BRCA1 gene.
What are BRCA1 and BRCA2?BRCA1
(BReast CAncer gene 1) and BRCA2
(BReast CAncer gene 2) are genes that produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Everyone has two copies of each of these genes—one copy inherited from each parent. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes because when they have certain changes, called harmful (or pathogenic) variants (or mutations), cancer can develop.
People who inherit harmful variants in one of these genes have increased risks of several cancers—most notably breast and ovarian cancer, but also several additional types of cancer. People who have inherited a harmful variant in BRCA1 and BRCA2 also tend to develop cancer at younger ages than people who do not have such a variant.
Donations made on the BRCA donation website page benefit BRCA basic science cancer research at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. The H Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the identification number 36-4461974.