Patty Nandy was very familiar with breast cancer. Her grandmother, aunt and mother all faced breast cancer diagnoses, which meant she was especially aware of the brutality of the disease. It’s why, when her mammogram caught signs of cancer, she was not overly surprised. She was 50 at the time and when it was determined that she would not be able to take tamoxifen, Patty opted for a bilateral double mastectomy.
One year later she attended her daughter, Danielle’s, wedding. Of that day Danielle said, “she completed treatment and looked fantastic at my wedding a year later. She really rallied. Nobody would have ever guessed what she had been through.” Sadly, only a few months later, the family would face another cancer diagnosis when Danielle’s brother was diagnosed with Leukemia at 21 years old: “that really impacted me to be so close to someone going through such a rough battle.”
Seeing her mother and brother face cancer encouraged Danielle to see a geneticist, which revealed she was a carrier for the BRCA gene. Interestingly enough, Patty tested negative for the gene and instead, her husband tested positive. With the intense maternal family history of breast cancer, a carrier for BRCA and a paternal carrier of BRCA, it became clear Danielle’s chance of a cancer diagnosis was likely immanent. With that knowledge, she opted for a preventative double mastectomy and ovary removal. Danielle notes, “its really interesting to go into surgery when you feel fine and don’t have cancer yet, but are pretty sure you have the genetic chances to. I hope to give my family the gift of not having me sick for years.” Danielle remains steadfast in her decision to control her health outcome. She sees it clearly that “what I went through was absolutely easier than what I saw my family members go through.”
Patty and Danielle’s story is truly one of generational growth through breast cancer. Patty’s mother’s death from breast cancer led her to the decision of a mastectomy and just one generation later, her daughter Danielle was able to preventively choose a double mastectomy. It’s an nod to the ever developing research and funding for breast cancer and for Danielle, “knowledge is power.”