Bismarck News

Genetics Testing Helps One Woman Avoid Cancer Diagnosis

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month..

Not every cancer survivor has your typical diagnosis. As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close.

Our Malique Rankin shows us one woman's journey, and the tough decisions she made to ensure she never got a diagnosis. RueAnn Gallagher had a strong family history of breast cancer. After seeing her mom and sister suffer, she decided to get a step ahead of the disease.

RueAnn Gallagher; Breast Cancer Survivor: "In September of 2011, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then in December of 2011, my mom was diagnosed for the third time. And so, in December I had a mammogram, and it came back having to look at a few spots."

RueAnn Gallagher had pre-cancerous spots on her breasts.
With her family history, she said this came as no surprise.

RueAnn Gallagher; Breast Cancer Survivor: "As prevalent as it is in my family, I knew it was going to be not if, but when it happens."

For Gallagher, her mind was made up before she was even tested.

RueAnn Gallagher; Breast Cancer Survivor: "Just, yep. Let's get them taken off and move on. That's exactly what the conversation with my husband was."

Gallagher went through with her decision, had both breasts removed, then had reconstructive plastic surgery.
As her oncologist explains, for patients that are a good fit for a double mastectomy, it can significantly reduce their chance of cancer.

Thandiwe Gray; Medical Director of Oncology at Sanford: "Chances of BRCA positive patients, if they have a bilateral mastectomy, they can reduce their chances by 80-90 percent."

Gallagher said she had a difficult recovery, but having the peace of mind made her journey well worth it.

RueAnn Gallagher; Breast Cancer Survivor: "Just wanting to let people know, you're not alone. Look at me, the poster child for early detection. It can be done and you can move on."

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

For step by step instructions on a self-exam, click here.


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