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Topic: Strong Family History...How do you deal with stress?

Forum: High Risk for Breast Cancer — Due to family history, genetics, or other factors.

Posted on: Aug 6, 2018 12:16PM - edited Dec 7, 2019 08:12AM by

Deleted Member wrote:

Hi all. I hope I'm posting in the right place, please let me know if I'm not.

Recently, I found my first lump in my breast. I went in and had it assessed, got an ultrasound and a core needle biopsy (I'm just under 30, so they told me a mammogram wouldn't be particularly helpful). Happily, my results were benign, and I was told it was a fibroadenoma. I also was told I had a couple other small things that 'looked like fibroadenomas' and cysts in one breast. I was told that the one breast has indications fibrocystic change, and the four specialists who helped me through this process are satisfied that all looks well at this time. I'm currently (if a little impatiently) waiting for my doctor to get back to me about where I can get genetic testing.

So, while all of this was basically fine (I guess), in the process of all this I dug into my family history. My mother and her mother both had breast cancer. While they were both treated and moved past it, having all this knowledge hasn't really quelled my fear and stress around the subject. On top of it, during my biopsy the radiologist mentioned my 'extremely dense' breasts, which is apparently another risk to be aware of. There's also my personal history (took bc pills for 3 years as a teenager, and while I'm not a big drinker I've had patches of drinking more and less in my 20's, though currently my drinking habits are well below the recommended limit). I can change some of these things, and I can always strive to be healthier, but much of it is out of my control.

As I mentioned, I'm going to pursue genetic testing (my mother said she tested negative), but I'm realistically assessing how I'm going to afford the screening I will need in the future, and honestly... I'm just not sure how to cope with all of it. I have had some real financial trouble in the last couple years and that's stressful enough, but now I'm feeling like I MUST fix that problem or else I will not be able to pursue risk-reducing screenings. I have some real health anxiety still weighing on me, and feeling my one lumpy, sore breast still has me thinking, 'but what if they missed something?' (I would like to think it's unlikely at this point, and certainly once my biopsy bruise clears up I'll go back to regular BSEs, but there's just that little fear in the back of my mind that's messing me all the way up lately.)

Does anyone have tips of how to be proactive without being paranoid after learning about having a lot of risk factors? I guess it's hard because I've begun to perceive this as a very real threat, and the negative thought spirals are definitely not productive or helpful in any way, but it is hard to escape them. I'd like to think there are better ways of mentally and emotionally dealing with all this.

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Aug 6, 2018 05:26PM Lula73 wrote:

For genetic testing, reach out to Counsyl. You didn’t mention when your mom had testing done, but they may not have identified as many genes as they have today at the time and your dad’s contribution to your genes also plays a role (it’s not just passed mother to daughter). so best to just get tested. Remember before you found the lump and did additional research on dense breasts? You knew a family history but it likely didn’t consume your every waking moment, right? Same thing with results from genetic testing whether positive or negative. It will be your focus for a bit but then will take a backseat to other things that need your attention. It just takes time.

-Lula Dx 1/2017, DCIS/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/13/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy 3/2/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 11/1/2017 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/2/2018 Femara (letrozole)
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Aug 8, 2018 10:12PM ladybugmommy2010 wrote:

I wish I had advice for you but I don’t. All I can say is I truly understand. I also have strong family history and recently had a benign cyst removed because it was causing pain. It’s scary because every little lump or pain you are wondering is this it? I’m 29 and will be 30 next month. I am doing the 5 month surveillance and it’s just really nerve wrecking.

31 years old with a 10 year old Family History: Paternal Great Grandmother, Paternal Great Aunt, Paternal Aunts. Sister, Maternal Aunt Surgery
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Aug 9, 2018 07:29AM edwards750 wrote:

I have a family history too. My mother had breast cancer and now both my sister and I have it. Btw I am 7 years out this month. My sister is a year behind me. Neither of us had genetic testing. Frankly I didn’t want to worry about it if I tested positive. Ditto my sister.

My MO told me 70% of breast cancers are not genetically driven. They really don’t know why some women get breast cancer but I’m sure my sister and I are carrying the gene. I have a daughter and 3 granddaughters who unfortunately will have to deal with this in the future.

Of course even if you carry the gene it doesn’t mean you will automatically get BC - it’s just more likely than not. Still it’s not an exact science despite the stats.

So try not to worry and keep us posted.


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Sep 15, 2018 09:07AM WC3 wrote:

If my mother and her mother had breast cancer, and both tested positive for a breast cancer associated mutation, I would have been tested as well and would have had also tested positive, I would have had a prophylactic BMX if it were within my reach. If everyone tested negative, I would also want a prophylactic BMX given the history and the possibility of an undocumented gene mutation.

Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant

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