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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Do You Need A BRCA Test?

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Do you need a BRCA test?  What is a BRCA test?  It was suggested that I get one.  I'm going on Friday, 5/19/17.

Why was it suggested?  Because a close relative was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and then had a bout with the cancer appearing in her femur in 2016.  She needed emergency surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital.  She's doing well after surgery and various treatments, medications, physical therapy, etc.

Coincidentally, I use the same facility she does.  Her Oncologist is in the same large practice as my Hematologist.  I didn't realize that until after I started seeing my Hematologist.

The Hematologist was called in when I was an inpatient in the hospital in 2016 and was diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg, along with several other issues.   I am still seeing him in his office.

Of course, one must give their own medical history and the medical history of family to all their doctors.  Because of my family member's history, he set up the BRCA testing.  He feels it's important

Back around 2001 my Gynecologist suggested that I get my first mammography.  I put it off .  I was busy working, going to school and being a single mom.  A year passed.

At my next annual, the doctor again said I should get a mammography.  A few months later I finally went.  I expected all to be fine.  It wasn't.  I got scared to death. This was before my family member's diagnosis.

After the mammography, the facility I was using at the time, called me back for a sonogram of both breasts.  The Radiologist saw something he didn't like and immediately referred me to a Breast Surgeon.

The Breast Surgeon did a needle biopsy on each breast. All I remember is the room I was in at the hospital was FREEZING.  I was shivering.

There was a very young, attractive male assistant.  He took a pen and drew purple circles on each breast. I joked around with him and said, "I hope you are having fun. Later should my boyfriend play connect the dots?"  He cracked up.

Thankfully, all came back good.  The Breast Surgeon then put me on a 6 month schedule. Fun, a mammography every 6 months.

Every time I had a mammography, they would call me back for a sonogram.  I said, 'this is getting silly, can't we do them at the same time?  The Breast Surgeon agreed and ordered a mammography and sonogram be done at the same time from then on!

A year or two after the first biopsy, the breast surgeon did another one.  Thankfully, that came back ok too!

Every time I had the mammo/sono, the facility would send a report to my Gynecologist and the Breast Surgeon.

After several years of this routine, the Breast Surgeon retired.  I started seeing the doctor that took over for him.  He chose to put me back on a yearly schedule.

About two years ago, I had my routine testing and received a call from the Breast Surgeon's office telling me to come in.  I made an appointment.

The doctor who had taken over for my original Breast Surgeon said he "felt a lump" in one breast and I needed surgery!  WHAT!!!

I told my family member about this.  Coincidentally, she was speaking with her Breast Surgeon that day.  She told her.  The Breast Surgeon said, "have her call me today."  I did. An appointment was set up immediately.

They did all their own testing, mammography, 3D mammography and sonogram.  Yes, they did a 3D mammography and mammography.  I do not know why.

The Breast Surgeon examined me, reviewed everything together with the Radiologist and I think a PA (THREE PEOPLE) and they all agreed, all is fine.  I did NOT need surgery,  WTH with that other Breast Surgeon.  Really?

 I have been using  my relative's Breast Surgeon  and facility ever since.


In fact, I went for my annual mammography/sonogram the other day.  I use the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Center at Stony Brook University Hospital complex. Yes, she is the mother of the Baldwin brother actors.

The staff is EXCELLENT.  They are professional, caring, gentle and punctual.

They also have me on an annual schedule.  At this visit, they first did my mammography, then the sonogram.  Then they decided to do the 3D mammography only on one breast.  All was fine thankfully.

They asked me if I ever had BRCA testing?  I informed them I am going on Friday, 5/19/17.  They were going to suggest it themselves knowing my relative's recent history.  They would like the results sent to them as well as the ordering Hematologist.

If you live on Long Island, which has a very high incidence of breast cancer, please be diligent in doing self exams, getting your mammography on time and seeing your Gynecologist on time.

If you see a change in your breast or feel anything different, see a doctor immediately.

If you get a vibe, go with your instinct.  One of my sister's employees at the time saw a doctor who told her she was "too young" for breast cancer.  Something didn't sit well with her.  THANKFULLY, she got a second opinion.  She wound up with a life-saving double mastectomy.

Doctors are humans.  There can be idiots among doctors no matter how "educated" they are.  Formal education and common sense are two different things.  The lucky people possess both.

Ask your doctor if it would be beneficial for you to have a BRCA test.

For several years now, my family has been participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach.  I participated a few times, but could not do it last year.
l - r - top  Even the pups get involved (my daughter's dog), a group of walkers
l - r - bottom - gorgeous Jones Beach, me with my niece about 4 years ago
Join in the fight against breast cancer.  Walking is good exercise and it's for a great cause.  Always do self exams.  Make sure to have your yearly testing done.  Ask if you should have BRCA testing done?

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  1. I feel like its important to point out that BRCA isn't only connected with breast cancer! Those who test BRCA positive are also at a higher risk of getting Ovarian Cancer, which carries one of the highest mortality rates, so its important to know!

    Britt |

    1. You are correct. I did know that. I guess I should have mentioned it, but was focusing on the breast cancer side of it due to my experiences. Thank you for bringing that to everyone's attention. It is very important.

  2. My sister in law has an extensive history of breast cancer on her mother's side of the family. Her mother and a sibling have had breast cancers in both breasts and two other siblings had one breast cancer episode each (all survived but one later died from a different cancer). She has been screened annually for years (she's in her 50's now) and finally got the test. Thankfully, some benign situations, but no cancer. It's a terrible sword to have over her (and your) head.

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your sister-in-law and her family. It's no fun, that's for sure. I went for my test this past Friday. I'm told they will have results in approximately 3 weeks. Here on Long Island we have a lot of breast cancer, unusually high. The "experts" say it isn't so, but the people say, yeah, it is, we are living it. How could it be that on one block in a certain town, every household had some sort of cancer, including young children and when people moved, the new buyers had the same issues. Too much of a coincidence if you ask me and others who live here. There are CLUSTERS here on Long Island where certain towns have a lot of cancer issues. Some feel it's due to the potato farms that were here using all the pesticides prior to them building here. If you look at my post 12 Facts About Long Island, you will see, no one ever expected people to be living here year round. I don't care what the "experts" say or what bull crap they want to tell us about the "tests" they ran, if we look around us, we all have the proof we need. Long Island has a huge problem with cancer and one of their biggest issues is breast cancer.