Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - March 2014

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Page 19 of 45 n Hudson Valley Parent 19 Photo by Tamme Stitt Photography. Heather Labruna hugs her two kids, Fiorello, 4, and Nora, 1.5. The Goshen mother has been documenting her journey from diagnosis to chemotherapy on her blog, Breaking Breast Cancer, at Testing: a real lifesaver For years, my concerns about breast cancer were casually dismissed. I didn't have that worrisome first-degree relative, such as a mother or sister, with breast cancer. The problem with that, of course, is that we inherit genes from both our mothers and our fathers. And fathers are just as likely to pass along a BRCA mutation. It was a symptomatic hemor- rhagic cyst that brought me to my ob-gyn, who recommended a baseline mammogram and ge- netic testing after reviewing my family history. If it hadn't been for those tests, who knows how long it would have taken for this cancer to announce its presence? I never had a lump — just tiny specks on a mammogram called "microcalcifications." Most professional organiza- tions recommend yearly clinical breast exams and annual breast screenings with mammograms starting at age 40 for women with an average risk of breast cancer. But many insurance companies will pay for a baseline mammogram at age 35 (and some have no minimum age). My mammogram picked up on the microcalcifications, which led to a breast ultrasound, which found the invasive mass. Three biopsies gave me my diagnosis. The silver lining in all of this has been that I've had several of my friends tell me that they scheduled long-overdue mam- mograms or underwent genetic testing because their family histories warranted it. That's all I ever wanted in going public with my story — to make sure we women, we mothers who look after everyone else first, take care of ourselves to ensure we're around for a long, long time.

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