I’m Cori Bailey, and I have worked at Tyler Holmes for nearly 12 years, and here is my story. After my paternal aunt, a breast cancer survivor, found out that she had the BRCA1 gene in the spring of 2015, I thought it might be worth mentioning to my OB/GYN when I went for my annual visit in the fall of 2015. Even though there was not a lot of family history of breast cancer, really just my aunt, he thought it would be a good idea to test for the gene. I’ll never forget sitting at the soccer field watching my boys practice when I received the personal phone call from my doctor. He told me that he had gotten the test results back, and they were indeed positive for BRCA1. So my husband and I made an appointment to sit down and discuss our options with Dr. Wiggs. He said we had several options, one being taking oral medication such as tamoxifen, or we could have prophylactic surgery and remove both breasts. I prayed that the Lord would give me a peace about whatever decision we made. One night, one of our three boys had come and climbed in the bed with us, and I was holding his hand. At that moment, I knew that was my sign that I needed to have prophylactic surgery to reduce my risk of breast cancer.
Having the BRCA1 gene is indicative of having a condition called “Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC).” Studies show that women with the BRCA1 gene have a 72% chance of developing breast cancer and a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer by the age of 80. So on January 16, 2016, I had a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy. By the end of the year, I had completed the reconstruction process. I felt that my chances of getting breast cancer were higher than that of the general population, and I wanted to be proactive and not become a statistic. Even to this day, I have complete peace in feeling that I made the right decision. I have five female paternal first cousins, and four of the five also have the BRCA1 gene. Even though cancer isn’t rampant in our family, we are at a higher risk of developing not only breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but also pancreatic, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers.
I encourage women to know their history. Ask your provider questions. Always be proactive, and don’t put off your health.