Her support systems at both work and home have been a godsend. Twelve treatments in, she said the biggest side effect has been the fatigue from the treatments. She has had useage of the cold cap therapy made possible through the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation and still has a full head of hair.
With her mother’s cancer, Emily and several female family members underwent genetic counseling. Her sister, aunts and cousin all tested positive for the BRCA gene, which may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Emily did not test positive for the gene, though she was positive for another genetic mutation that causes breast cancer.
That knowledge is power, but Emily credits her persistent habit of self-exams with finding the cancer early.
“If I had just relied on imaging, I wouldn’t have caught it for a while,” she said. “Check your breast. Get used to what is normal for you. If you feel any difference, no matter what, big or small, get it checked out. I could have dismissed what was going on with me as part of my pregnancy.”
“One simple screening can save your life, and it doesn’t take that long to do,” she said. “Self-exams basically saved my life.”