Westlake – Early detection saves lives. It’s the mantra of breast cancer physicians and organizations worldwide – and also a proven fact. According to the National Cancer Institute, when breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98%.
And while just thinking about breast cancer is a scary proposition, turning that fear into knowledge, hope and action can truly save your life. Just ask Jess Brady, scheduling coordinator, Westshore Primary Care (WSPC). In February 2014, Jess was diagnosed with Stage I triple negative breast cancer. She was just 27 years old. Were it not for her proactive approach to her own health, Jess’s prognosis and outcome could have been much different.
Family History Prompts Action
You see, Jess has a family history of breast cancer. Tragically, her mother died of the disease in December of 2005, and she has two aunts who are breast cancer survivors. Considering her family history, at the age of 21 Jess opted to have genetic testing to determine whether or not, from a genetic standpoint, she was at an increased risk of breast cancer. After testing positive for BRCA1, one of the most predominant genes known to increase a person’s risk of breast cancer, Jess began a preventative regimen that included self-breast exams, as well as diagnostic testing– annual mammograms and MRIs– beginning at age 25. It was during a self-exam that Jess discovered a lump. And within a week, her life was completely changed.
“I was training for a marathon at the time of my diagnosis,” said Jess. “Despite being an active, healthy person, I also knew my family history and understood that diligence was critical to ensuring my health and wellness.”
Treatment … plus a lot of support
Following her diagnosis, Jess underwent four months of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy in August.
“If it weren’t for the support of my family, friends and colleagues I don’t know where I’d be,” Jess says. “Having two aunts who have been through this– well, there was a lot of support from them and from my entire family. “My WSPC colleagues were also wonderful – providing more support and comfort than I could have ever imagined. They covered my shifts donating their vacation time when I needed time off and provided rides to and from work when I wasn’t able to drive.”She has also had an impact on them, raising awareness of breast cancer and the importance of knowledge, awareness and early detection.
Today, Jess is cancer free.
Now back to work, Jess wants others to hear her story in the hopes that she can make a difference. “I want people to be able to move past their fear- and believe me, I know that isn’t easy. The idea of genetic testing can be really scary. But, knowledge is power. If you know your history, know your risks, and know what you can do to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer it can truly save your life.”
“Jess’s story is so compelling, sending a strong message about the importance of early detection and proactive management of your own health,” said Dr. Michael Adornetto, president, Westshore Primary Care Associates. “Jess’s attitude has set an example and positively affected all of those around her– including her colleagues at WSPC.”As for Jess, her goal is to get back to training for that marathon she missed; something she hopes to complete by the end of 2015.
For more information on breast health, or to schedule a mammogram at St. John Medical Center, please call 440-827-5459.