WellnessOctoberpdf - page 4

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Health & Wellness
Fall 2013
The Garden City Telegram
Laura York-Guy is a strong
woman. She is not easily alarmed.
Her family, friends and students will
attest to those traits.
However, when the doctor called
with results of her genetic test, Guy’s
strength would be tested. For this
43-year-old wife and mother of two
children under the age of 5, being
healthy is a priority.
“I don’t know if it is because my
husband and I waited until later
in life to have a family, or if health
issues are something all parents
worry about,” she said. “We want to
be around for a long time and see
our kids grow up and have families
of their own. We’ve both lost family
members to cancer, so we worry
about that.”
A couple’s nagging fear
Guy’s family history is rife with
cases of breast cancer, something that
has left her fearing she eventually
would be diagnosed with the disease.
She was 12 when her maternal
grandmother was diagnosed with
breast cancer. Guy said her grand-
mother lost two of her sisters to the
disease before Guy was born. Guy’s
mother, Chris York, initially was
diagnosed with breast cancer at the
age of 41, and again last year.
“It has never been a matter of if I
would get breast cancer, it has always
been a matter of when,” Guy said.
Alarmed by her family history, the
loss of a cousin to cervical cancer
last year and a persistent discomfort
under her arm, Guy said she knew it
was time to take action.
So, the Garden City Community
College journalism instructor
launched her own investigation to
determine what more she could be
doing.
“I began researching hereditary,
high-risk cancer,” she said. “My
sister, who is a nurse, saw a doctor
nearly seven years ago and had a ge-
netic test done to determine whether
or not she was at a higher risk for
breast cancer. Her results were
negative, so, at that time, I didn’t
give it much more thought. Then, for
whatever reason, I started worrying.
I think it may have had something
to do with my age. I was about the
same age as my mother when she
was diagnosed and that thought kept
eating at me.”
Guy’s sister, Angie Zachman, said
she was thankful her sister was not
tested at the same time she was.
“If she would have been tested at
that time and tested positive, that
would have been before she had chil-
dren,” Zachman said. “That would
have been a very difficult decision
to have to make at that time, and it
could have resulted in me not having
my niece or nephew, so I am very
thankful for the timing.”
Guy scheduled an appointment
with a doctor in Wichita who
specializes in high-risk, hereditary
breast cancer.
“I asked my mom to go with me to
my appointment,” she said. “I wanted
her there with me because she’s had
cancer and she knows our family his-
tory in much greater detail than I do.”
Guy said the initial visit proved to
be potentially lifesaving not only for
her, but also for her mother.
“As we discussed the options for
genetic testing, the doctor recom-
mended that my mother be tested
first since she had been diagnosed
with breast cancer,” Guy said. “She
told us that if my mother tested
negative, there would be no reason
for me to be tested. However, if she
tested positive, then we would have
a reason not only to test me, but
also they would know which genetic
markers to look for.”
In May 2012, her mother’s results
came back positive for the BRCA1
mutation.
“Part of me knew then that my
results were going to be positive,
too,” she said.
A harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2
mutation can be inherited from a
person’s mother or father. The Na-
tional Cancer Institute reports that
each child of a parent who carries a
mutation in one of these genes has a
50 percent chance of inheriting the
mutation.
Guy’s suspicions were confirmed
in June 2012 when, following a
blood test, her doctor called to tell
her she had tested positive for the
BRCA1 genetic mutation.
Understanding the risk
While BRCA1 and BRCA2 muta-
tions are rare in the general popula-
tion, the Susan G. Komen founda-
tion reports one in 400 people in the
United States, and one in 800 people
By Anderson Lindblom, Matthew
Mccallister, Jose Garcia, and Valerie
Lindskog,
Special to The Telegram
Genetic testing
gives local woman
an advantage
CONTROL
Taking
LaRissa Lawrie, GC3 Media photographer
Laura and her daughter, Maris, enjoy the little things like finding a lady bug together.
The phone call brought
news that altered her
life and touched those
close to her.
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