What you need to know about Breast Cancer, BRCA Testing & BREVAGenplus®

Hey Cuties,

I hope your October is going well, we are half way into it now. I’m counting down to my 36th birthday, four days to go.  I’m counting down to the SOAR Retreat, leaving tomorrow morning.  I’m working on our Halloween costumes and everything. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Russell Stankiewicz, MD about breast cancer, what we need to know, what we need to do and I wanted to share that with you. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my mother and mother-in-law are both survivors. This is a big deal in our family and for our own health.

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Race for the Cure, Washington, DC {2010} My Mother-In-Law is wearing her pink Survivor t-shirt.

When I started dating Babe his mom had recently won her battle with Breast Cancer. Every year we would get together and do the Race for the Cure with her. Over the years my family would also join in. Several years later we would be walking in honor of my Mother and Mother-In-Law.

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My son was hanging out with my Mom while she was recuperating from her single mastectomy. {2011}

Dr. Russell Stankiewicz, MD

Russell Stankiewicz, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in The department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Family Medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, PA. He is also President and Senior partner at OB/GYN Associates of Lewisburg, P.C. Dr. Stankiewicz is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, has advanced certification in Minimally Invasive Surgery, and is a certified Menopause Practitioner. He sits on multiple committees of The North American menopause Society. He is also an FAA designated Aviation Medical Examiner.

Q: If more than 85% of women who develop breast cancer have little to no family history of the disease do women with history stand a better chance?

 A: Hereditary: Strong family history {Angelina Jolie Pitt} Sporadic: Is the most common breast cancer they see.  If women don’t have family history they skate on treatment. Sporadic breast cancer is the most commons.

Q: What constitutes family history? My mother is a breast cancer survivor but is the only person in my family to have breast cancer. Does that mean cancer is now hereditary for me or does it require more people in my family?

A: If she test positive for BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 it is hereditary. If test negative then it is sporadic cancer. That is where BREVAGenplus® screening comes in, this is a test for sporadic cancer.

Q: Are males just as susceptible of breast cancer if their Mom test positive for BRCA 1 & 2.

A: The short answer is yes, it would be a good idea to have all of their children (male & female) tested. When men get breast cancer it’s a big red flag. It is most commonly a genetic issue. Breast cancer in men just isn’t very common.

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January 12, 2012, I welcomed my baby girl into the world. After taking care of my Mom along with my sister it made me realize I didn’t want my son to be any only child anymore. This is my Mommy meeting my daughter for the very first time.

Q: How does age play a part in Breast Cancer?

A: Women who develop hereditary cancer are the ones that usually end up with breast cancer at an earlier age. The sporadic cancers tend to happen around the menopausal age. Those are the ones that are estrogen or progesterone positive; the ones that have a better prognosis. Also look at women who started their menstrual cycles early {before age 12}. Also look at women who had delayed child bearing, had their first live birth after 30. As well as women who had a previous breast biopsy. Women between 35-65 they start looking at black women, white women and Hispanic women are usually a good candidates for the testing.

Q: Is 40 still the ideal age to get your first Mammogram?

A: Yes, we still suggest getting it done at age 40.  If you have someone in your family that has had breast cancer we might start you at age 35.  Instead of doing it every year do it every three years until you turn 40 and then you do it annually.

Q: Early detection is key; but is their foods we should stay away from or lean toward?

A: Women who have high fat diets are more of a risk; we recommend the Mediterranean Diet. Low fat, high protein, low carb diet is great. Alcohol makes a big difference, if women have 3 alcoholic drinks in a week that increases their chances of breast cancer. Smokers also have a greater risk of breast cancer. There are some lifestyle changes that women can make to reduce the risk.

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This is my Mom at her last chemo treatment. My baby girl was sleeping in her arms, she is a SURVIVOR!

Q: If your Mother test positive for the BRCA gene what should be my next action?

A: You need to be screened and if they find out you also have that lethal gene you need to be proactive. That could be a mastectomy or medication to prevent breast cancer. The BRCA 1 gene is a lethal gene so that needs to have action taken. It will depend on how aggressive your surgeon, oncologist or OBGYN is going to be.

If the testing comes back negative then we would suggest the BREVAGenplus® that is an opportunity to quantify your risk. If you’re low risk, intermediate risk, or high risk. If you come back at high risk that is an opportunity for us to make a plan going forward. You are still doing your monthly self-breast exams and annual clinical breast exam. Might take you to an annual MRI or a full breast ultra sound or you might qualify for medication that prevents breast cancer.

Q:  Does birth control play a part in breast cancer?

A: The Mirena IUD is a very safe and #1 method of breast control in the world.

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Race for the Cure, Washington, DC {2012} My Mom didn’t have the energy to do the walk but she insisted on being there. We did the walk in her honor while she hung out at the Survivors Tent. This was a very proud moment, My Mom, her two girls and my baby girl.

Cancer is a constant battle, my Mom finished treatment in 2012 but she is still dealing with life after cancer. She now has lymph-edema which is swelling in an arm or leg caused by a lymphatic system blockage. In her case it is the left arm, that is the side she had lymph nodes removed and her mastectomy. This also means she has a limb alert which means she can never be stuck on her left arm or have her blood pressure checked on that arm. It also isn’t as strong as it once was. Cancer is a battle but life after can be complicated and unpredictable as well. Early detection is the key, RUB THE BOOBIES, IT MIGHT SAVE YOUR LIFE!


Limited Edition Breast Cancer T-shirts available in the SHOP until Oct. 31st.

Breast Cancer Interview

“I never knew what bravery was until I saw it in my grandmas.”

Do you do your self breast exams monthly? Have your had done the BRCA testing? Do you or someone you know ever had breast cancer? Chat with me in the comment section below or FBIG or Twitter.


Article written by:

Mimi Robinson is the Lifestyle Media Correspondent and editor behind MimiCuteLips®. She is a wife and mother of two. You can find Mimi working media at your favorite events, traveling and trying out new adventures, or working on a dope DIY project.

Join the discussion

  1. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Breast cancer is a hideous thing. Anything we can do to help us protect ourselves should always be done.

  2. Jaime Nicole

    Wow, what strong and amazing women. It looks like there is such a great sense of togetherness and support and love in this family. That means so much.

  3. Megan Elford

    Wow, you have family of strong women! I have a great deal of respect for each one of you. Thank you for posting this, and for raising awareness about early detection!

  4. Sandy KS

    My boyfriend’s mother is a cancer survivor. My granfather did not. A couple of my friends have recently been diagnosed with cancer as well.

  5. Jeannette

    This is great info. My mom is also a breast cancer survivor and I am much more in tune to my risks. I think it’s so important for everyone to be informed and make the best decisions when it comes to their health.

  6. Michele D

    This is a great post. Very informative to all women. Many blessings to your mom!

  7. Annemarie LeBlanc

    I have two first cousins who have had mastectomies last year. They are doing fine right now and still being checked for any signs of metastasis. I admire the strength of these women who had/have breast cancer. They are the real fighters.

  8. Erin

    Thank you so much for all of this information! It’s so important for people to be truly educated about cancers.

  9. Mykidsguide

    Oh Mimi, you have a beautiful family. Congratulations to your mother and mother in law for defeating breast cancer. Your interview with Dr. Russell Stankiewicz is very enlightening.

  10. Chrystal | YUM eating

    Those t-shirts are amazing. I would love them and proudly would wear them. Cancer has affected my friends and family is ways so many could ever imagine. I have seen some of the worst cases. Again, these shirts are awesome. I’ll be sharing.

  11. lisa

    This is such great information. I have a number of friends that are breast cancer survivors. The more informed we are, the better!

  12. Chubskulit Rose

    I didn’t think men can get breast cancer too but I guess anybody an. It’s great to know this info!

  13. Lynndee

    I do self breast exams monthly and our doctor actually told me that I will have my mammogram when I reached 40. I just turned 40 so I will have it soon.

  14. Bonnie @wemake7

    I’ve never heard of the BRCA testing before but interested in it. Thanks for sharing your personal story about your family.

  15. Chantal

    Wow this Q&A is full of so much information. This is a lot of new info for me, I really appreciate you sharing it and also spreading breast cancer awareness!

  16. Patrice

    My aunt passed with breast cancer and I just found out another family member has it. This was a touching blog post for me. So many years we hear of other people who are struggling and I guess I was ignorant to the fact that it would never happen to my family until it did. A yearly mammogram screening, diet, exercise plays a part in reducing our risk to cancer. I had never heard of BRCA gene test and will share with friends.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Sorry for your loss Patrice. I felt like it wouldn’t happen to me, I think we all do about a lot of things. All the best to you and your family and friends.

  17. Janelle

    Thank you Mmi on the education of BCAM. I didn’t know our “moms” were both survivors. MAJOR CONGRATS to the both! My mother passed away from Cancer back in 2012 but it was breast. Although I’ll admit I really never fully promoted this awareness to strong (because of other awareness I support like Dwarfism Awareness which is also October) for breast cancer it’s STILL info I need to know and be aware of. WE ALL DO! Reading this open up my eyes even more so thank you for sharing this! Especially on sharing details that your mom is still battling after– daily. Be strong!!

    • MimiCuteLips

      Awww, I had no idea. Thanks for sharing that with me, I appreciate that. Sometimes we don’t realize we need it until we see it. <3

  18. Chasing Joy

    I’m happy to hear your mom and mother in law are both survivors. My mom has been fighting lung cancer for a couple of years now. Caancer Sucks!

  19. Crystal & Comp

    My mother-in-law battled breast cancer early 2014. She is now cancer free and we are so grateful. A mastectomy, chemo, radiation… it is life altering. The side effects continue. Her hair is back. Her nails are finally no longer grey. Her energy has returned and her diet. She also has lymphedema and blood thinning issues that prevent some of the recommended recovery meds. It’s a battle. God Bless them all!

    • MimiCuteLips

      Crystal, I know what that road is like. Glad to hear your mother-in-law is getting back to some normalcy. It is a battle but the hardest part is done. Congrats to her!

  20. CourtneyLynne

    Omg so much great info here!!! I had no idea about the iud and breast cancer! I have an iud so that was a neat fact!

  21. Staci

    Great post! Very informative. I really appreciate you sharing this important cause. My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor

  22. Ty

    I loved this post. The tips that you gave were invaluable.Thanks for sharing something so personal and your mom is truly an inspiration.

  23. Krystal

    It is so important to be aware of this. I know that a lot of us have dealt with this with our families or friends so it’s good to talk about it and testing.

  24. Yona Williams

    Congratulations to your mother and mother-in-law for becoming breast cancer survivors. It was interesting to see that a specific diet can help deter the disease.

  25. Holly

    This was very informative. I learned a few new things!

  26. Ashleigh

    I’m so happy to hear that both your mother-in-law and your mother have beat cancer. It is so important to make sure you take the steps to detect it early.

  27. kita

    I love this! I don’t know anyone personally affected by breast cancer but I know I hate all cancers…my mom passed with stomach cancer so I know that cancer is not something to take lightly. Get checked and checked often is my motto.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Sorry to hear that Kita but I feel you. I loss both of my grandparents to cancer. This is an excellent motto to have, it can save a life.

  28. Jonna

    Since I’ve had a breast reduction, I’ve started having mammograms. But I’ll be 40 soon – can’t believe I”m saying that. So I guess they’ll be a regular annual thing. Great post!

  29. Tiki

    Because of family history, I started my mammograms at 35. I missed mine for this year and I won’t lie, I’m a little afraid, but I have faith that all is well.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Tiki it was my plan to start at 35 as well. I just turned 36 on Sunday but I’m calling tomorrow to make my appointment. I can’t put it off. Glad you get yours done.

  30. Tyra

    Such a great article with insights that I didn’t even know. Even more reason to watch the diet, and I am gong to get on that promptly!

  31. LaShawn

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Congratulaitons to both your mother in law and your mother!

  32. Aisha Adams

    Of all the posts that attempted to cover breast cancer I read this month this was by far the most educational. Thank you so much for sharing this important information. I am
    dedicated to eating right and trying to move 45 mins a day. I also always self check.

  33. Chrystal, ChryssVI

    Cancer sucks! Thank you for this informational post. I’m in my 20s but I still self check.

  34. Christine @MomsNCharge

    I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by breast cancer in some way, shape or form. Unfortunately, I know people who did not win the battle. But I am so glad to hear both of your moms are doing well. Thank you for sharing this informational discussion as I think it’s so important to continue to educate ourselves.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thanks Christine, Cancer has taken over and it doesn’t care who it attacks. 🙁 If it can help/save one person then my job has been done.

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  37. Tomi C

    We have come a long way but women are continuing to die from breast cancer. We must continue to educate. Thank you for sharing your story.

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