Many people turn nostalgic around the holidays, thinking of seasons past. Some remember the holiday bustle – trying to get everything ready for gatherings, gift-giving, and gingerbread baking. Some remember loved ones who have passed.  

Kim Danielson, a busy mom of two, remembers a holiday when she could’ve – but didn’t – skip a routine appointment that saved her life. 

At an elevated risk of breast cancer due to her family and personal history, Kim had an annual breast MRI scheduled for every December. Yet, she had a lot of demands on her time – her children, holiday activities and work. So, Kim could have easily skipped the annual MRI. But, according to Kim, “there wasn’t a chance” she was going to miss that appointment. 

Why? Kim took the MyRisk® Hereditary Cancer Test with RiskScore several years ago because she had a paternal aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50, which is considered a risk factor under clinical eligibility guidelines for hereditary cancer testing.  

MyRisk® with RiskScore evaluates 48 genes associated with hereditary cancer risk to identify genetic changes associated with an increased cancer risk. When combined with family history and other clinical factors, the test provides each patient with a cancer risk assessment individualized to them. 

While her MyRisk result showed she was negative for any known hereditary cancer mutations, Kim had a significantly elevated RiskScore, which meant she was at an elevated risk for breast cancer. In addition to annual mammograms, this elevated risk qualified her for annual breast MRIs.  

In December 2021, she didn’t let the holiday frenzy prevent her from keeping her MRI appointment. The results, unfortunately, were not good: she had breast cancer. 

“Her type of cancer was an invasive lobular cancer. Those types of cancers are less common than the traditional invasive ductal and are tricky to find. They can hide in the breasts more so than the other types of cancers,” said Jane A. West, MD. “They are the type of cancer that can keep breast radiologists up at night just because they can be really sneaky. So, for her, the MRI was just crucial to finding her cancer.” 

Because Kim’s cancer was caught so early and wasn’t large, she was able to have a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy. 

“What it really means [to catch this cancer early], is that I had a lot of options available to me – even from a surgical standpoint,” said Kim. 

Now, Kim continues to diligently get her breast cancer screenings: mammograms in the summer and MRIs in December. She won’t miss these appointments – no matter how hectic life gets.  

“I was truly lucky to find this cancer at an early stage, which I believe would not have been possible without MyRisk and RiskScore,” said Kim. “I had a less-invasive surgery and shorter recovery time, which allowed me to get back to normal activities.”  

She encourages all women to know their risk factors and, if they are at risk of breast cancer due to family history, to take the MyRisk with RiskScore test.  

“Empower yourself. Know your family history. Know your risk factors. Know your breast density,” said Kim. “Ask if genetic testing is right for you.” 

And to always – always – keep their breast health appointments.  

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