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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: New BRCA Gene Mutation Guidelines

Publication: KTBC-TV (FOX, Austin)

Rachel Belkin is a teacher, a wife, a mother of two and a 10-year breast cancer survivor.

When FOX 7 Austin first met Belkin in 2017, she had just had her ovaries removed. 

Belkin says she's not back to where she was before the cancer. "I know it's somewhat of a cliché but it's a new normal that we have to adjust to."

And she certainly has adjusted. This summer, Belkin's family hiked in Canada for vacation.

Just last month, Belkin, her father and her son rode 25 miles from the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride.

Belkin has the BRCA gene mutation. When a breast cancer gene is mutated it may no longer help prevent breast cancer. Because of this, people with BRCA have a 70-90% chance of getting breast cancer.

"You see the ability to diagnose a BRCA gene or one of the other cancer genes is really the ability to prevent cancer and cure cancer before it ever starts," says Dr. Debra Patt, executive vice president of Texas Oncology.

Dr. Patt breaks down the new BRCA guidelines.

"So the guideline from the U.S. Preventative Task Force is really a call to action for primary care providers to ask women who are survivors of breast cancer or who have a strong family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, peritoneal cancer, prostate cancer or pancreas cancer about that cancer history to try to estimate their risk of having one of these heritable mutations," says Dr. Patt.

This means asking about family history then referring the patient to testing a cancer specialist or a genetic counselor. 

Belkin says when it's time she'll have that conversation with her children. Right now, Belkin says she's focused on the moment and on helping through her blog.

"I help people live happier healthier lives on a budget," Belkin says. She says her audience doesn't have a lot of extra time or extra money usually and still want to live fulfilled lives, so she helps them find easy ways to live a little happier and a little healthier."

Because she's been able to do just that for herself and will continue for a long time to come.

View the full story at KTBC-TV.

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