Meet the Women Featured in Previvors
Previvors are people who have not had cancer but possess a predisposition to develop it. For some men and women, it means having a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. For others, it also means testing positive for one of the breast cancer gene mutations. The word “previvors” was coined by an organization called FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), an incredible resource for women facing a high risk for breast or ovarian cancer.
Lisa Marton: I am a former marketing executive living with my husband and three children in Boca Raton, Florida. Shortly before my grandfather’s death, doctors discovered a golf ball sized lump in his chest. It turned out he had breast cancer, but my mother never knew that she had a higher risk for breast cancer because of her father. When I was 29, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, she succumbed to the disease after years of fighting. I then decided to be proactive and find out what I could do about my own risk for breast cancer. I only wish that we knew sooner how important it is to look at the father’s side when it comes to family history. If we had, my mother might still be with us today.
Mayde Wiener: I practiced podiatric medicine in New York City, and currently reside in Highland Beach, Florida with my husband and two children. My mother battled breast cancer when I was only 17 years old. She survived, but endured mutilating mastectomies. I was under close surveillance for years and had to have several lesions biopsied when I was in my thirties. Eventually, I was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) and atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), both high risk factors for breast cancer. I felt I was following in my mother’s footsteps. My breast cells were proliferating to the point where my next stop was going to be breast cancer. I had to do something to drastically reduce my risk.
Amy Rosenthal: I’m a stay-at-home mom raising three children in Boca Raton, Florida. When I was a little girl, I used to think that someday I’d go to college, get married, have kids and eventually I’d get breast cancer. My grandma died from it right before I was born, and my aunt and mother are survivors. Naturally, I assumed that I would follow in their footsteps or I would end up with breast cancer. Eventually, we found out that there was a genetic link to breast cancer in our family, which meant I was at great risk, too. I became determined to beat breast cancer before it beat me.
Rori Clark: I am a stay-at-home mom raising three children in Parkland, Florida. Years ago, my mother was told the words “You have ovarian cancer.” Four words that changed our lives forever. I was by her side at the time, pregnant with my first child, and all I could do was pray for my mom to live. In the end, the cancer spread and my mother died after years of fighting it. Seven years later, my sister was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, she survived. But my family history encouraged me to seek genetic counseling and get tested for the genetic mutation linked to breast and ovarian cancer. I was surprised to find out that having this mutation meant I was at risk for both diseases. I never knew in a million years that my family history of ovarian cancer would increase my risk for breast cancer.
Suzanne Citere: I own a dance studio and live with my husband and daughter in Lighthouse Point, Florida. When I was 2 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She passed away on my first day of kindergarten at the age of 47. Because my mother died of breast cancer, especially at such a young age, my whole life I was told I was high risk, too. But I was so scared to face my risk that after my annual mammogram, I’d stick my head in the sand and do nothing until the following year. I wouldn’t even do breast self-exams because I was afraid of what I’d find. Finally, a few years ago, I decided to take steps to defy my fate. I never really understood how awful it was growing up without a mother until I became one myself.I finally understood what I was missing, and I was going to do whatever I could to make sure I was there for my daughter.