By Kelli Grant
SIOUX FALLS, SD - If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may have wondered what risks you face. A new program at Sanford Health called the High Risk Breast Cancer Surveillance Program could answer that and much more. And one South Dakota woman says it's made battling her disease easier to accept.
Knowing your risk for developing breast cancer can be scary. But it should now also be calming knowing those risk factors are being closely watched.
Forty-year-old Sharon Sergeant is rounding out her chemotherapy treatments with her husband by her side and her three kids supporting her through every step.
But she's getting even more support as she fights breast cancer from a special team at Sanford.
"If it means that I extend my life with my kids, I'll do what it takes and this is - it's doable," Sergeant said.
Sergeant has a family history of breast cancer, which is why she had a mammogram done every two years. But it wasn't until after she found the lump in October that she learned just how high her risk was.
"They had some red flags that they thought might put me at risk and then once the genetic testing came back, it definitely put me into the high-risk category," Sergeant said.
Sergeant tested positive for a breast cancer gene and that meant she was now part of Sanford's new High Risk Breast Cancer Surveillance Program.
"The BRCA gene status increased my risk tremendously and I didn't want to have to go through this again," Sergeant said.
So even though the lump was found in her right breast, she had both breasts removed and the program helped tailor her treatment to four chemotherapy sessions.
The program's not only making the experience easier for Sergeant but also for her nine-year-old daughter, who is now also considered high risk.
"It has reassured her that this is definitely a chronic illness and curable at this stage when detected early," Sergeant said.
Giving the family some piece of mind with a team of doctors, surgeons and the latest technology at their fingertips.
Learn more about the high risk breast cancer clinic online.
Women in the program have access to Breast MRIs and digital mammography among other tests to detect breast cancer. Being identified as high risk can also help women get coverage for such tests from their insurance companies. Talk with your primary care physician if you think you qualify for the program.
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