Jewels In Our Genes: A Family Story

The incidence of breast cancer for all women increases with age and is highest among white women. However, mortality rates are higher among African-American and Latina women. The reason for this is that these groups of women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at later stages, making treatment and survivorship more difficult.

‘My daughter passed away from breast cancer in 1996,” said Evelyn Smith of Buffalo, who herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. ‘Since my daughter’s death, I made sure I had regular early screenings tests for all forms of cancer, including for breast cancer. Due to an early breast screening exam, and support from my family, especially from my sister, Mary Meadows, and her daughter, Veronica Meadows-Ray, who themselves have been treated for breast cancer, I won my battle against this disease.”

One of the primary risk factors associated with breast cancer is having a family history of the disease.

The “Jewels in Our Genes” study at the University of Buffalo, funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, aims to analyze the DNA of African-American women from families with multiple breast cancer diagnoses. The ultimate goal of this nationwide research is to find breast cancer genes in African-American women to answer the question of why the disease is more prevalent in some African-American families rather than in others.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, early enough for me to make the best decision on how to treat it,” said Mary. Mary’s daughter, Veronica, was diagnosed with the same disease in 2007 at the age of 48.

“After treatment, I am proud to say that I am a cancer survivor,” said Veronica, who also serves as a consultant for the “Jewels in Our Genes” study. ‘Now I talk to women about knowing their risk factors, on how to examine their own breasts every month, and on the importance of getting a mammogram every year. It is my dream that this study will provide answers that assist in finding a cure for breast cancer.”

For more information about the study, please call toll free: (888) 444-0354.