Avera Medical Minute: Breast Cancer Genetic Testing - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Breast Cancer Genetic Testing

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Cousins Heather White (left) and Kelli Timmer. Kelli is a breast cancer survivor and both have tested positive with the BRCA 1 gene mutation. Cousins Heather White (left) and Kelli Timmer. Kelli is a breast cancer survivor and both have tested positive with the BRCA 1 gene mutation.

Would you want to know if you have a potentially deadly gene mutation? Or would you rather live free from that burden and bury your head in the sand? Nancy Naeve Brown has more on how an extended family with the history of breast cancer is taking their health and their future seriously by getting an important genetic test.

Kelli Timmer is really close to her family. It's a family that's endured a history of breast cancer. Kelli's grandmother and her mother were both survivors of breast cancer. Unfathomably both were only 31 when they were diagnosed. As Kelli grew up she always had a sense of impending doom.

Kelli says, "I always kind of new in the back of my mind.  If there was anything bad to get in my family it seems like I get it. 31 is the magical number. I turned 31 in July and I found the lump in August."
After Kelli was diagnosed, had surgery and 4 months of chemo she went back to Avera McKennan for genetic testing to find out if she carried the gene mutation for BRCA 1. She does. BRCA stands for breast cancer.  Nicole Mattila, a genetic counselor, explains the significance.

Nicole says, "Everyone has BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene. What we are looking for when people elect the genetic test is mutations. Anywhere in those 2 genes that essentially cause it to not work properly in the body. So when we identify a mutation it increases a person susceptibility to cancer."

When Kelli found out that herself, her grandma, mom all carried the breast cancer gene mutation she became the catalyst for getting her mom's brothers and their families in for the same testing. Both Kelli's first cousins Heather White and Heather's sister Haley tested positive.

Heather says, "I'm really glad we have this technology to be able to do that. Even though it's a bad diagnosis, I'm fortunate because I'm able to have early screening and detection whereas before I would never have done anything until normal guidelines suggest at 40 of getting a mammogram. Now I can be proactive hopefully I won't have to go through what my grandma, aunt and cousin had to go through."

Haley at 26 immediately opted for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and heather at 24 says surgery is ultimately in her future too and has come to terms with that.  The ladies recommend if you have a family history of breast cancer, especially at a young age, get tested then get going on doing everything you can to be previvor!

Living with a Higher Genetic Risk for Breast Cancer:
To be well community health education event
Please join Certified Genetic Counselor Nicole Mattila of Avera Medical Group
Sioux Falls for a viewing of the PBS documentary, "In the Family" and participate in
a panel discussion on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. Sonya Kooima,
a previvor, who tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation will share her story.

Living with the BRCA Gene
Thursday, October 13 • From 6-9 PM
Avera McKennan Education Center 810 E. 23rd Street

To register for this FREE EDUCATIONAL EVENT, go to www.AveraMcKennan.org and click on the events calendar,
or call 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372).
A meal will be provided for the first 50 respondents.

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