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YVFWC Employees Share Their Breast Cancer Stories

Family Medicine
September 29, 2017
Breast Cancer Awareness month, YVFWC employees share their stories

YVFWC Employees share their breast cancer stories

Employees at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic share their personal stories of their breast cancer journeys.

Kathy

There was a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach as I felt pea-sized lump in my breast. I’ve always worried I might be at greater risk.

My aunt died from breast cancer, and that’s why I worried I might have a genetic predisposition to it. What worried me even more, was the future my daughter and other female relatives might have to endure.

I took my worries to my medical provider and began asking about genetic screening. While waiting to get tested, I did a self-exam and discovered the lump. I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some women carry certain genes that increase their risks for getting breast, ovarian, and other kinds of cancers at a young age.

To my great satisfaction, testing revealed I did not have the familial genetic predisposition for breast cancer. This meant my family didn’t carry this predisposition either. It was such comforting news to know those so dear to me weren’t predisposed to cancer. 

But, I was still one of the unlucky women to have developed breast cancer.    

I was scared. I didn’t know what kind of treatment I wanted to endure. I was afraid of chemotherapy; losing my hair, of decreased quality of life, and being so sick.

Genetic testing revealed the type of tumor I had did not require full chemo treatment. I was able to do a regime that allowed me to continue to work and I did not lose my hair. I then moved to radiation treatment, and am now on Tomaxofin.

If you’re reading this, I urge you: know your breasts. It is vital to do self-exams, and be regularly screened. Talk to your provider, and know your risk. Early detection is truly the key to a greater chance of successful treatment.  

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BRCA stands for BReast CAncer susceptibility gene. Our family does not carry the BRCA genes, if you want to know if your family does: The BRCA tool helps you determine if you possibly could carry the BRCA genes. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/knowbrca.htm

Ramona

Many little girls grow up thinking their mom is a super hero. Mine actually is.

She instilled in me great morals and values, excellent work ethic, and great need to be a good steward of my health. She regularly visits her medical provider for annual exams and took the advice to get regularly screened for breast cancer.

What do you do when a superhero is told she has cancer? The news changed our family’s lives forever.

When you hear the word “cancer,” the last words you think of are hopeful, quality of life, or happy.

But because my mom was regularly checked, her doctors caught the cancer early enough to give her a fighting chance. She was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer, and was able to immediately begin treatment. Thanks to early detection, my mom is now a five-year cancer survivor.

Someone sees you as the superhero they need in their lives. So please, heed your doctor’s advice. Get screened, take a genetic test, and do regular self-exams.

Annika

Words cannot fully express the feelings that follow the first time someone tells you that you have cancer.

I was in shock, I didn’t believe it. I was crushed, in despair, lost, and confused.

Convincing myself it was nothing to worry about, I ignored the abnormality in my breast for a week. After sharing it with my husband, he gave me the strength I needed to get it checked. Eventually, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Being a mother to a small child and finding out you have cancer is absolutely heartbreaking.

Regular mammograms are recommended for women beginning at age 40. I found the lumps just before turning 41, and I hadn’t yet had my first screening. My first mammogram would be my last, as my treatment resulted in a double mastectomy. Thankfully, the amazing support from my family, friends, and YVFWC family helped me through 12 weeks of chemotherapy and continue as I receive immunotherapy indefinitely.

I can’t say enough how important it is to not only get mammograms as recommended, but also to regularly perform self-breast exams. It’s so important to be familiar with what “normal” is for you so that you can identify when something is abnormal.  Early detection is better than finding cancer at a later stage.