Proactive approach to breast cancer can mean difficult decisions for many women

Posted at 10:18 AM, Oct 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-11 10:18:18-04

Many women are faced with difficult decisions in their efforts to be proactive against breast cancer. The disease has touched so many families, including Laury Eastridge of Fallston. Eastridge lost both of her grandmothers and her aunt to breast cancer. Last year, her mother was diagnosed with the disease. But early detection saved her life.


“They caught it early,” said Eastridge. “She didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation or anything.”


Eastridge’s family history with breast cancer gave her the strength she needed to be proactive. She knew she had to find out if she had a cancer gene like her mother.


“I knew from the history of my family. I knew before I had the test,” said Eastridge. “I wanted to make sure so I went to a genetic counselor and she did the gene test and it came back positive.”


Eastridge learned she had PALB2, a rare form of the breast cancer gene.


“There were days I just sat there and cried,” said Eastridge. “You go through a rollercoaster of emotions.”


Her tears turned into strength thanks to the support from her family and friends. She was determined to learn all of her options at MedStar Franklin Square.


Emily Kuchinsky is a Genetic Counselor at MedStar Franklin Square and helps run a high risk clinic.


“We follow women who because of family history or because of genetic testing results have an increased risk for cancer,” said Kuchinsky. “We provide them high risk recommendations which could range from increasing their breast screening, doing mammograms, starting them earlier in their 20s and 30s instead of 40 when most women start.”


Kuchinsky and a team of specialist helped Eastridge decide which option would be best.


Even though Eastridge wasn’t diagnosed with breast cancer, she made the very difficult decision to be proactive and have a double mastectomy and reconstruction.


“I would love to live to be able to see my daughter get married, see her graduate high school, all of these things I want to live for,” said Eastridge. “I’m going to do this for my daughter and for me”


Early detection can save lives. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, regular screenings with mammograms have resulted in 30% fewer deaths from breast cancer.