LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – When it comes to a cancer diagnosis, early detection can make all the difference. For one Arkansas woman, she said genetic testing and constant screenings saved her life.
Just like clockwork, Kimberlie Harris heads to her regular checkups with Julia Turner, a Baptist Health D&P APRN.
“If you have a family history of those rare cancers, we want to make sure to follow you closer,” Turner said.
Harris has a long family history of cancer and found out a few years ago she was positive for a genetic mutation, making her more susceptible to breast cancer.
“All of these genetic mutations, if known, your outcomes would be improved if we’re screening you more frequently if we’re doing lab work if we’re doing screening with imaging,” Turner said.
Along with screening every six months, Harris said getting a double mastectomy was always the plan.
“But life got in the way,” Harris said.
While the procedure was put on hold, Harris never missed a checkup.
“It happened June 23rd, I was down for a routine mammogram and I was in the room a little bit longer than normal,” Harris said. “At that point, the lights started going off something is not right.”
After multiple tests, results came back positive for breast cancer.
“My cancer was stage one because we caught it early,” Harris said.
While a scary diagnosis, she said it could’ve been so much worse.
“I’m not going to have to have chemotherapy. I’m not going to have radiation,” Harris said.
Now, both Harris and Turner hope this story resonates with other women.
“She will be there to see her grandchildren,” Turner said. “Cancer is not going to be her story. It’s not going to take her life.”
They both encourage other women to take the same steps.
“To make sure they’re there for generations to come for people that need them,” Turner said.
Harris’s children also have been tested for the mutation after talking with their doctors. Her daughter has the mutation and goes to regular screenings. Her son tested negative.