Science Care’s Team & Breast Cancer

Science Care’s Team & Breast Cancer

In the United States, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Breast cancer occurs when the cells of the breast grow out of control. 1 out of every 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of their lives. For women who have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the risk nearly doubles. 

Whitney Weimer, Vice President of Client Services, has experienced breast cancer in her immediate family. Her mother, Patty White, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30’s.

Patty’s mother and all four of her aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. The family history with breast cancer was extensive, so Patty was very focused on early detection from an early age.

At the age of 31, she went in for a baseline mammogram, a low-dose x-ray of the breast tissue that can help detect changes in the breast that could be cancerous before symptoms ever develop. 

When Patty was 36, she started to notice breast pain and a mammogram revealed a suspicious area that doctors wanted to keep an eye on. Six months later, she received a follow-up mammogram and needle biopsy that revealed cancerous cells, and she was formally diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Patty underwent a lumpectomy, a surgery where the tumor and small amount of surrounding tissue is removed, chemotherapy, and radiation. While she battled breast cancer, she had a busy home life with two small children and a busy work life. 

“At the age of 7, I remember walking into my mom’s hospital room and being so fearful,” Whitney said. 

Once declared in remission, Patty didn’t miss a beat. She moved forward but continued with regular check-ups and mammograms. Four years after her initial diagnosis, she found a lump in the scar from her original lumpectomy. During the ultrasound, Patty recalls knowing immediately from the look on her doctor’s faces that it was likely cancer again. 

“I remember coming home from school and finding out my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer again,” Whitney said. “My friends were enjoying a new school year, and I was wondering if my mom would be around for important milestones in my life.” 

Patty had decided after her initial battle with breast cancer that if it came back, she would pursue a mastectomy, a procedure that removes all of the breast tissue. In addition to the mastectomy, Patty also received radiation and chemotherapy while continuing to show up to work every day and be present for her children. She’s been in remission ever since. 

Due to their mother’s battle with breast cancer and their extensive family history, Whitney and her sister have been proactive with screening from a young age. When breast cancer is found early, before it spreads, it is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early.

Experts urge women to know what their breasts normally look and feel like so they will be aware if something changes. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass, although the majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can also manifest as soft, round, tender or even painful.

“The memories of witnessing my mom’s journey gave me the desire to be part of the medical community professionally. Without the medical technology we have today, I would not have had my mother by my side growing up and to this day.” 

Science Care donors continually play a key role in scientific advancements. Body donors have contributed to numerous projects that have impacted the medical communities understanding and treatment for different cancers. Research focused on identifying biomarkers and developing diagnostic assays are just two examples of this important work that is made possible by the gift of body donation.

“Seeing our donors play an integral part in improving a surgeon’s skills and bringing advancements to medical research and technologies is an amazing thing to be a part of,” Whitney said. “Even more so because my life has already been immensely blessed because of it.”

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