Patricia's Story: Facing Breast Cancer Twice

No one is ever prepared for the news that they have cancer. Even if they’ve heard it before. 

But things had changed between Patricia Moore’s first and second diagnoses of breast cancer. That is, Patricia’s outlook and new medical technology to help her fight the disease.

“The first time I had cancer, I was a total wreck,” Patricia recalls. “The second time, I was more matter-of-fact.”

She adds, “I’ve trusted God through all of it. My family has been by my side, and the support and love I’ve received from both friends and coworkers has been fantastic.”

Patricia’s most recent cancer experience began with a routine mammogram, which led to a biopsy, a positive diagnosis, and a meeting with breast surgeon Linda Barney, MD of Wright State Physicians Department of Surgery.

Dr. Barney suggested that Patricia undergo genetic testing to detect potential mutations.

“Patricia’s earlier cancer, combined with a strong family history of the disease, raised the question of a possible genetic link to cancer in her family,” Dr. Barney says. “Though genetic testing has been out for several years, the technology has evolved to be able to detect a number of other genetic mutations.”

Tests revealed that Patricia had the BRCA gene. BRCA mutations are associated with the highest risk of breast or ovarian cancer in a patient’s lifetime. Many other gene mutations also increase cancer risk.

This finding influenced Patricia’s course of treatment (she opted for a double mastectomy) and equipped her with valuable information for herself and her family.

“News of a mutation helps patients advise their family members that they should seek the advice of a genetic counselor since the gene can get passed down,” Patricia’s oncologist, Basel Yanes, MD, of Dayton Blood and Cancer Center explains.

He said ovary and breast removal can reduce the risk of cancer by up to 90 percent in people with the BRCA gene.

“Several factors go into how we help patients navigate their path,” says Julie Sawyer, genetic counselor with Miami Valley Hospital South’s High-Risk Breast Cancer Center. “Not everyone chooses testing. Not everyone chooses to have surgery. We want to provide a range of options that allows them to make the best approach to their care.”

Encouraging Others

The ultimate goal is to empower people to lead healthier lives and care for themselves in the best way possible.

“We don’t want to create a false sense of security that you won’t get breast cancer if you don’t have a mutation,” Dr. Barney says. “In fact, 90 percent of women who get breast cancer don’t have a gene mutation connected to a risk for the disease. Women should routinely receive routine wellness care, see their physician, and have breast exams and regular mammograms even before considering genetic counseling.”

Today, Patricia is in good health and on a mission to encourage others.

“I tell everyone – whether they are friends, family, or coworkers – to be sure to get their mammograms.”

Linda Barney, MD

Linda Barney, MD

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Basel Yanes, MD

Basel Yanes, MD

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