Genetic Screening for Breast Cancer: Why I Did It Twice

By Sasha Brown-Worsham
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
October 21, 2022

My mother had a thing about Muenster cheese. She ate it constantly. On sandwiches. On crackers. Plain and like a taco, rolled around bits of lettuce or jalapeño. The same way I eat it now. The same way I share it with my children. I also have her nose, her smile, her chin, her hair, her propensity to get adult acne just before my cycle, and unfortunately for me, a genetically higher risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer, just like she did.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 40, went into remission briefly, and then died of the disease at 45.

It was 1993, and there were fewer treatment options than there are now, but her death, along with my grandmother and maternal aunt’s postmenopausal diagnoses, means that I’m at an especially high risk of developing breast cancer. It’s a fact that keeps me up at night. And it’s the reason I have gone through the stressful and agonizing process of being genetically tested. Twice.