Family First: Beating breast cancer

Family First: Beating breast cancer

Dr. Sherin Mercer and Anne Embry share a bond. Not only is Dr. Mercer Anne's physician, but they have a similar story, albeit different outcomes. Both women have a high risk of getting Breast and Ovarian cancer.

Dr. Mercer explains, "Women have a gene called the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2. In some women, that gene does not work the way it's supposed to work and that affects them in a negative way. Dr. Mercer has a long lineage of breast cancer, her aunt was diagnosed with the disease first. It slowly trickled down to multiple family members including first cousins and soon her mother.

Unlike Dr. Mercer, Anne Embry doesn't have a history of breast cancer in the family.  At one point, the then 28 year old didn't believe she could possibly have the disease, until she found a lump on her breast. She was reassured by doctors given her young age, it was likely not cancerous. To be sure doctors had done a Biopsy.

Anne Embry was then diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 years old. "I just felt like I was falling, I just felt like I was falling through a hole, I just could not" said Embry reacting to the news. "Everything just kind of went numb; I just couldn't believe what I was hearing."

Dr. Mercer says there is always a chance of being the first member to have the gene. There are also certain criteria of how it's measured or who doctors decide should be tested. The same year Anne received her prognosis, Dr. Mercer decided to get tested. She found out she carried the BRCA 1 gene.

Both women opted to have a bilateral mastectomy, to prevent any future risk of the cancer reoccurring. Dr. Mercer also chose to have a hysterectomy, although she wasn't diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, she wanted to stop the risk before it was too late. She says that decision should not be based solely out of fear.

After four rounds of Chemotherapy, Anne Embry never looked better. This mother and wife say early detection stopped the disease that could have changed her life.

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