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Gap Highlights the Power of Research with Mackenzie’s Story

By BCRF | October 4, 2019

Mackenzie Dougherty, PR Director for Gap, shares her experience with triple negative breast cancer at 33.

When Mackenzie received her last mammogram, she didn’t give the results much thought. As a BRCA1 genetic mutation carrier, she grew accustomed to the biannual screenings her doctor recommended to monitor her heightened breast cancer risk. But this last mammogram was different. Her appointment took place on the anniversary of her brother’s death—at the same hospital where he passed away and where her late father was treated for lung cancer.

While her scan days are usually met with anxiety, this time, she was distracted by grief that had consumed her for so long.

“I had been holding in my grief for weeks and I finally allowed myself to feel the pain,” she says remembering her scan on March 4.

It wasn’t until the following afternoon that she remembered the mammogram and her mother texted to see if she received the results.

“I had been so caught up with my emotional breakthrough that my own physical health was a non-issue,” she said.

She nonchalantly opened her hospital portal at her office desk while in conversation with her coworkers.

“As I started reading the results, complete nausea came over my body. ‘ABNORMAL’ and ‘RECALL PATIENT’ flashed across the screen with a note about a mass on my left breast,” Mackenzie said.

That night, after her boyfriend David fell asleep, she examined her breast for the first time and felt a lump.

“My entire body shuddered, and I knew I could not undo that moment,” she said. “I told David the next morning and we both looked at each other with tears and determination. He told me he was in it no matter what.”

Mackenzie was diagnosed with stage I triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. She was 33 years old.

“This experience has taught me that life is going to happen whichever way it wants and you have to accept and make the best of it,” she said.

Mackenzie underwent surgery and eight rounds of chemotherapy. With her family and friends by her side, as the PR Director for Gap, Mackenzie credits her workplace for their tremendous support throughout her treatment as well.

“From care packages I received while on leave to flowers to celebrate the end of my chemotherapy treatments, my friends at Gap were an integral part of my support system,” she said.

“They rallied behind me on social media after I shaved my head and my boss even bought me my, now signature, Jennifer Fisher hoops that I wear daily.”

Gap, a BCRF Corporate Partner since 2015, has donated over $250,000 to BCRF to date, funding more than 5,000 hours of research. This year, Mackenzie was asked to participate in the company’s breast cancer research campaign. For Mackenzie, this brought her diagnosis full circle. Not only does Gap support the science that helped her care, but her oncologist, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, is a BCRF-supported researcher.

“This campaign really merges my personal, professional and medical life,” she said. “Research is the reason my cancer was caught early. It’s why I can take this opportunity to display my most vulnerable, raw self at a time when I’m learning to accept my body.”

From now through October 19, 10% of sales from all regular-price Gap bras will support BCRF, up to $100,000. See the BCRF-supporting collection here.