Addison's Army: Helping Infant Battling Stage Four Skin Cancer

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Last February, a Wichita woman died from stage four skin cancer. Her story made national headlines because in a very rare case, her cancer passed onto her unborn child.

Briana Cox's daughter Addison lives in Phoenix but Briana was from Wichita. She grew up in Wichita and still has a lot friends here. Those friends call themselves Addison's Army and they say they're mission is to honor one of Briana's final wishes.

Briana graduated from West High School, served in the Air Force, and was a police officer in Wichita and Phoenix, Arizona.

In 2006, Briana had a malignant skin melanoma removed. Several tests later, she was given the "all clear” and went on to have her son David and then her daughter Addison. But less than two months after Addison was born, Briana had a seizure.

“They took her in and did a scan to make sure that nothing was wrong and they found tumors everywhere,” Addison's Army member Jennifer Pilens said.

Briana had stage four melanoma. Friends say her thoughts immediately turned to her daughter. At Briana's request, doctors tested Addison and found she too had stage four cancer.

“She took it very hard. She blamed herself, which of course was not her fault but she had a lot of guilt,” Addison's Army member Kimberly Rubio said.

Doctors say while pregnant, Briana’s cancer passed through the placenta and into her unborn daughter's bloodstream.

“It is extremely rare. At the time of Addison's diagnosis there were only nine other cases in the entire world,” Rubio said.

Briana died last February, after an eight month battle with skin cancer. Her friends say one of her final wishes was for others to learn from her story.

“It happens to anybody and everybody look how young she was, look how young Addison is,” Rubio said.

And so, Addison's army was born. The foundation was created by Briana's husband. Her friends here in Kansas joined the cause and started a mid-west chapter.

“It's an honor to be a part of it,” Rubio said.

The group say it's a way to not only honor their friend's wish to raise awareness about skin cancer, but also to support 21 month old Addison as she continues to fight her own battle.

“We try to stay involved and stay connected. She's Brianna. so she's important to us too,” Rubio said.

Addison's Army is holding their first major fundraiser in a two weeks. They're calling it a Dual-State 5k. Both branches of the foundation in Arizona and in Wichita are holding a race on February 23rd.

The Wichita race is February 23 at 2:00 p.m. It will be at West High School, Briana's Alma Mater. For more information on how to register go to addisonsarmy.org.


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