Sisters emphasize the importance of detecting breast cancer early

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Moira Yim, with her sister, Kerstin (left). Photo/Submitted.
Moira Yim, with her sister, Kerstin (left). Photo/Submitted.

Moira Yim, a clinical resource coordinator for imaging at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, unfortunately knows a lot about breast cancer. She lost one sister to breast cancer in 2010, while her other sister will mark her five-year anniversary of beating the disease this November.

Now, Yim is facing her own battle and she understands how important continuing with self-exams and annual mammograms are in detecting breast cancer early.

“Like both of my sisters, I found a lump. Even though I was scheduled to have a mammogram a month later, I sent a message through MyChart and had an order for a mammogram two days later. One day after the mammogram, I had a biopsy scheduled and they told me right away that I had breast cancer and that my lymph nodes were positive as well,” said Yim. “If I hadn’t been checking regularly or had blown off a mammogram, the outcome would have been different.”

Yim’s family history with the disease prompted her to have genetic testing done at Piedmont Fayette last year. Although she tested negative for BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 (genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer) among other cancers, she knew that it was likely that the testing just didn’t cover the gene that was causing cancer in her family.

Yim consulted with breast surgeon Nicole Sroka, M.D. and oncologist Jonathan Bender, M.D. to determine a course of action. She began chemotherapy at the end of August, will have a double mastectomy after the first of the year, and start radiation therapy after that.

“It’s a blessing to have all of these services under one roof and to have the departments at Piedmont Fayette work seamlessly together through MyChart,” said Yim. “I’ve also been able to talk with Elaine Harbin, the breast cancer navigator, and several members of The Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness Center, including dietitian Corey Tolbert, who is providing some tips to battle side effects and continue eating well through chemotherapy.”

Yim is glad to have the support of her sister, who is providing advice on handling the side effects of her treatment, and her colleagues in Imaging, who have made it easy to continue working, whether in the office or remotely.

The message Yim wants to share with women is to continue to perform self-examinations and have a mammogram done each year.

“I don’t know when I would have detected this disease if I hadn’t performed a self-exam,” Yim said, adding that her disease had been spreading rapidly. “I also believe that if there is cancer in your family, genetic testing is important. It didn’t find anything in my case, but it reminded me to remain vigilant.”

To schedule your mammogram at Piedmont Fayette, use MyChart or call 770.719.7007.

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