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Despite family history of breast cancer, young woman shocked by diagnosis

To say breast cancer runs in the family for Lisa Vingerling is an understatement.

“Four of my dad’s sisters had had breast cancer, so I knew the family history was strong,” she says.

During a breast self-exam, Vingerling found a lump she says was unlike anything she had felt before. Her primary care physician drained it and pathology reports determined it was not cancerous. However, the lump kept coming back.

Her breast cancer diagnosis

Unsure of her next step, Vingerling called the Doris Shaheen Breast Health Center. They connected her with a breast surgeon, who performed a biopsy of the lump. This time, the test found cancer cells.

“It really blindsided me,” Vingerling recalls.

She took several weeks to contemplate her treatment options: Lumpectomy and radiation, or a bilateral mastectomy without radiation. She chose the mastectomy.

Shocking news after surgery

The Monday after the surgery, Vingerling’s surgeon called with unexpected news: They had discovered another tumor.

“She said it was so aggressive and so fast-growing that it would have killed me within six to 12 months,” Vingerling says.

What made the news so shocking was the tumor had not shown up on an MRI just nine days prior to the surgery.

“It grew that fast,” she says.

Undergoing genetic testing

At that point, Vingerling chose to undergo genetic testing.

“We all kind of knew the test was going to come back positive, which it did,” she says.

The silver lining, she says, was that her sisters and cousins were also tested for the genetic mutation.

“It has led to all of us being here and living happy, cancer-free lives.”

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