The holidays are the time when we get together with our family to share thanks for what we have and hope for what we do not. Spending time together is something you should cherish and if you are a breast cancer survivor, this time is extra special. My mom often said after her diagnosis, that she was thankful for breast cancer because it made her realize what was really important. Of course, she wished she had never had cancer at all, but she decided to see the good in a not-so-good situation. Her realization of what was really important resulted in a shift of priorities in her life and our family. We spent more time together and we appreciated that time so much more. I encourage you to take this holiday season to re-evaluate your priorities. What is really important to you?
Family is most likely in the top 10 of your list, if not at the very top. Family offers support, encouragement, love, and acceptance. But how much do you know about the history of your family? This information is very useful. Did you know that your family history can be an indicator of your risk for breast cancer? In fact, women with close relatives who have had a breast cancer diagnosis have a higher risk of developing the same disease. If you have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer, your risk is twice as high as someone without a family history. If the family member was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40, the risk also increases.
If you discover that you have a family history of breast cancer, take the time to talk to your doctor about it. You may qualify for a referral for genetic testing. This is a simple blood test to look at the genes that can cause breast cancer such as BRCA. Regardless of the results of this test, you should also talk to your doctor about preventive measures and early screening. Below are some links to a video with Meagan Farmer, a geneticist. She talks about genetic counseling and family risk in breast cancer. https://youtu.be/U0l20P8eCoE & https://youtu.be/3yszspc2SHQ
So, this holiday season, take some time to discover what is really important, cherish moments with family, and take a look into your family’s history to see if you may be at an increased risk for breast cancer.
For more information visit: http://surviveal.org/expert-advice/genetics-the-basics