Lowering the possibility of not knowing
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Bayda said it’s important for women to take the BRCA test as a measure to keep themselves healthy. “It makes a very big difference in the health of a person and they might be cheating themselves about taking measures that could save their lives,” she said. “If you don’t know the information then you don’t know your options and having that information opens up a world to keep us healthy.”
Two months ago, McLoughlin had a hysterectomy and although she was sore and tired, which are normal symptoms following the procedure, she feels great. “It’s given me a new outlook and I’m trying to take better care of myself,” she said. “I’m lucky that I found out about my options and had enough information.”
Dr. Mohan Mahadkar, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, said the most important thing women can do is to get annual mammograms starting at age 40 as well as do self-exams at least once a month. “If you feel something, see a doctor immediately,” he said. “Also have an annual gynecological exam. When we go back and look at the history in patients with ovarian cancer there are symptoms that patients and their physicians miss which are constipation, diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain. It’s very important for them to get checked out if they suffer from those symptoms or have a family history.”
Despite testing positive for the BRCA 2 gene, McLoughlin considers herself lucky because she was able to be proactive about the disease and hopes other women will be too. “I want people to be aware that there’s a chance they may have this gene and by learning about it and researching it, they might never have to go through something more serious,” she said. “People don’t always realize what can happen to them.”
For more information about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome and the BRCA test, visit www.learnabouthboc.com.