Breast Cancer

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Related Checklists

Breast Cancer Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

Managing Your Breast Cancer Risk: A Family’s Journey

family's journey managing breast cancer risk Nelson Marques/PhotoSpin

The American Cancer Society estimated that in the United States, one in eight women, or 12 percent, will be diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer.

That estimated lifetime risk increases to about 60 percent in women who have mutations to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Knowing that you have a strong family history of breast cancer can affect how you manage your cancer risk. That was the case for three sisters — Melissa, Kristy and Erica — whose mother survived breast cancer, had a grandmother and aunt who passed away from breast cancer, and three aunts who are BRCA positive.

When Kristy discovered a benign breast lump, she learned that she was BRCA positive; her sisters would learn they too were BRCA positive a year later.

EmpowHER talked to Melissa, Kristy, Erica and their mother Leonora about their journey. EmpowHER also talked to Dr. C. Andrew Salzberg, who pioneered “One Step” breast reconstruction 11 years ago, about the procedure and its benefits for patients.

EmpowHER:

You have a family history of breast cancer. How did that affect how you managed your cancer risk?

Melissa, Kristy and Erica:

We knew about our cancer risk since our mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in '97 right after her sister had passed away from it the year before. She thought this was too much of a coincidence and decided to get checked.

We were 13, 12 and 9 at this time, so we had a long time to prepare ourselves for the news that one day we might have this gene. Seeing numerous relatives receive this news before us as well as some having breast cancer, showed us that we can take preventative measures such as mammograms, MRIs and of course the prophylactic surgery.

We knew early on we did not want to go through the fear that our mother did of having cancer or the outcome that it could bring, such as in the case of our aunt and mothers cousin who had died from it at such a young age.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

Improved

1549 Health

Changed

572 Lives

Saved

427 Lives
2 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Have you been tested for BRCA gene mutation?:
View Results