Genetic test leads woman to early breast cancer screening, diagnosis
Posted May 5
Who should be screened for breast cancer and when? Those can be complicated questions, with different recommendations coming from expert organizations.
While the general guideline is to begin annual screening at 40, some younger women become aware of their higher risk due to family history.
"The reason I had genetic testing was my sad's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26," said Kate Payne.
Payne saw her aunt fight the disease for 7 years before losing her battle, so with her genetic test results in mind, she began annual mammograms at age 31.
The images revealed a tiny tumor in one breast.
"We found it as early as you can possibly find breast cancer," she said.
UNC/Rex breast cancer surgeon Dr. Rachel Jendro helped Payne choose a strategy to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue.
"The good thing about early detection and getting your screening mammograms early is early breast cancers are much easier to treat and cure," Jendro said.
After two procedures, tests showed cancer still present in Payne's body.
With her long-planned wedding drawing near, Payne made a brave choice to have a double mastectomy followed later by breast reconstruction.
"They let me have my wedding and then we elected to put our honeymoon off and have a mastectomy three days after the wedding," she said.
Just two and a half weeks later, Kate wore the colors of a breast cancer survivor at last year's Triangle Race for the Cure. She was still weak, so she wasn't sure she made the right decision until she met other survivors.
"To be surrounded by other women who have gone through exactly what you have, even though everyone's story is a little bit different, was just a buoy for me for the weeks to come," she said.
She helped herself, and through money she and her husband, Luke, raised, was able to help others.
"She's a very strong, brave woman," Jendro said. "She has done great things for herself and now it's helping other ladies go through that same fight."