Genetic testing, for people at high risk of cancer, can change the trajectory of their lifelong health.
“If we don’t do this test, we don’t know if you have an 87 percent risk of breast cancer or 25 percent life time risk,” said Mary Jane Glade, a nurse practitioner with CHI Health St. Elizabeth. “It can really help us guide even with negative results what we need to do going forward”
A more tailored prevention plan means your chances of cancer can drop dramatically.
“It might include surgery, it might include medication, increased surveillance ,” said Glade. “Specifically with breast cancer it might mean an additional MRI with that yearly mammogram.”
For Erica Young and her family, a long line of cancer traced back through their family. The young mother out of Albion was almost 40 when she faced the decision to get genetic testing to determine her risk of cancer. The testing found a breast cancer gene and she underwent surgery. She said getting that testing done, although she was scared, was one of the most important things she’s ever done.
“Knowing that I wanted to watch my kids graduate high school, graduate college and go on to get married and have kids themselves, that was the power,” Young said. “That’s what I needed. That’s when I said, I’m taking over. Breast Cancer is not going to take my life, I’m going to beat it first.”
Hannah Yates was tested just this summer. Her sister and her mom were diagnosed just one month apart. She has children, and said knowing that she carries this gene, takes a weight off of her shoulders.
Brandi Preston’s mom was diagnosed with cancer in her late 30′s. Brandi’s mother was an Omaha Police Officer and ran marathons, so her diagnosis was a shock to their family. Her mom’s dying wish was that Brandi and her siblings get genetic testing. Brandi and her brother carried the cancer gene.
“I remember waking up from that surgery just feeling like I’d been hit by a bus,” Preston said. “But then I instantly thought, my breast cancer risk is gone; I don’t have to go through what my mom went through. I can’t think of any greater gift than that.”
To cope with the loss of her mom, Brandi started the Hereditary Cancer Foundation. The Foundation offers to help in all sorts of ways, whether that is financially or through support groups. She said her mom would be so pleased to have known how much of a difference her life has made.
These women taking the route of early detection and steps toward prevention could mean a brighter future for them and their families.
“When we identify those people, we can prevent the cancer,” said Glade. “We don’t want it be the other way around.”
Health officials from CHI Health St. Elizabeth said that if you’re at high risk, you should consider getting genetic testing. This link can point you to the next step.
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