Survivor Stories, pt. 2
In the summer of 2009, Julie Heeg’s mother passed away after battling breast cancer for more than a decade. Like many women, she struggled with the disease off and on, underwent various treatments and enjoyed a few brief years of remission.
“I though it was a death sentence,” Julie says of her mother’s initial diagnosis. Despite the shocking news, her mother lived for another 16 years and fought every step of the way. “My brother said it best,” Julie says, “she didn’t choose to die, she chose to live.”
Recent research shows links between heredity and breast cancer in that some women (and men) may have inherited mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes, and that 5-10 percent of cases are thought to be hereditary. Genetic testing is now available to those with a family history of the disease, offering the potential of early detection for those who test positive for mutated genes.
At the same time, medical research reminds us that most women with breast cancer have no family history whatsoever, and that testing positive for the gene does not always means that one will develop cancer.
Would you want to know? A first reaction might be to say yes, but for herself, Julie has a different perspective.