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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Tessia Brown

Tessia Brown was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Though ill, she continued her studies and graduated this past December.

Recent UW grad loses battle with cancer

Just six weeks after she gathered the strength to walk across the stage to receive her UW-Madison diploma in December, Tessia Brown passed away from cancer. She was 22.

Madison-born Brown graduated with a degree in fashion design. A passionate performer, she enjoyed singing and dancing along with modeling, winning the UW-Madison Campus Idol contest her freshman year, according to an obituary provided by her funeral home.

Professor Jody Fossum taught Brown in Design Studies 610 last semester, a course built around organizing and putting on an annual fashion show for student designers and the School of Human Ecology each May.

Brown had previously participated in the show, but enrolled in the class this fall determined to play a central role in the entire event, Fossum said. Her ideas were selected as the leading influence in the upcoming show's concept.

“She either stayed in touch or came to class with her mother so she could finish the class,” Fossum said. “Every day she was an inspiration for people…the fact that she graduated, her power and energy of mind. She was incredibly remarkable.”

Beyond incorporating her conceptual plans, the Design Studies fashion show in May will also commemorate Brown with either an award or scholarship.

Brown was diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the thymus gland, in October 2010, shortly after her 21st birthday, according to the Facebook page of the Live 2 Heal Foundation, a non-profit organization cofounded by Brown to help raise awareness and support for thymic cancer research.

Brown was scheduled for surgery to remove the cancerous cells in her thymus gland before it was discovered that her cancer had already spread throughout her body, according to the foundation.

On average, the five-year and ten-year survival rates for thymic carcinoma are 38 and 28 percent, according to the Foundation for Thymic Cancer Research. Development of thymic-cancer treatments has been halting due to a lack of research into the less-frequently occurring form of cancer.

Roughly 30 percent of those diagnosed with thymic-related cancer do not have symptoms at the time of diagnosis; it is usually revealed during routine examination work for other things.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, located at 2019 Fisher St., at 11 a.m. Memorials may be made to the Live 2 Heal Foundation, c/o Park Bank, 6701 Raymond Rd, Madison, WI 53711.

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