One in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, a statistic that became all too real for Holly Daugherty when she was diagnosed last year.
“This process has made me sift through the important things and the unimportant things in life,” Daugherty said.
‘Breast Cancer’ were two words Daugherty knew well.
She watched her grandmother lose her battle — and then older sister received her diagnosis in September of 2020.
“By the time we found out until she passed, it was two months,” Daugherty said.
Losing her sister, only 44, encouraged Holly to get tested for the BRCA gene.
Sometimes, the gene can mutate, which can raise a person’s risk for breast, ovarian and other cancers.
“My results were positive and so that started while I’m dealing with her funeral.,” Daugherty said.
As she buried her sister, Holly simultaneously scheduled a hysterectomy and mastectomy out of caution.
Before those could happen, she got her own breast cancer diagnosis.
“From November’s MRI of the breast until January, I grew cancer,” Daugherty said.
Thanks to early detection, Holly’s prognosis was good. Now she’s in remission and shares her story to teach others about hereditary cancers.
“There’s no greater gift I’ve been given then this knowledge,” Daugherty said.
She encouraged her family members to get tested for the BRCA gene and all tested positive.
“Getting an evaluation of my genes is the only thing that saved my life, and the lives of my entire family,” Daugherty said.
“Taking care of your body takes care of your breast health as well,” said Dr. Lauren Harry, a clinical breast imaging specialist with IU Health.
She says women should receive yearly mammograms starting at age 40.
“As long as women are in good health, getting a mammogram yearly is one of the most important things women can do to keep themselves healthy,” Dr. Harry said.
If there is a history of breast cancer, Dr. Harry encourages patients to undergo genetic testing.
The result could save your life.
“Early intervention has changed the trajectory of my entire future,” Daugherty said.