February 15, 2023

How Breast Cancer Has Impacted One Family for More Than Three Generations

This piece originally appeared on katiecouric.com.

Meet the family fighting back against their strong history of breast cancer.

For Kristin Hurley, her mother Jane, and her daughter Brynn, breast cancer is almost like a member of the family. Both Kristin’s maternal and paternal grandmothers, both her maternal uncle and aunt, and her mother have all been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yet when Kristin was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41, it still came as a shock. “I woke up one morning and reached over to turn off the alarm clock, and I could feel something hard in my breast,” she remembers. She went right to her doctor, who diagnosed her with stage 2B hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

Because she had two cancerous tumors in one breast and several cysts in the other, Kristin opted to get a bilateral mastectomy. She learned in the recovery room that the cancer had spread to her sentinel lymph nodes. In order to determine the appropriate next steps, Kristin had the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score® test. This involves taking tissue from a patient’s tumor in order to provide a score, which can tell a patient their risk of disease recurrence as well as whether they will benefit from chemotherapy or not. Kristin’s score was 26, which meant her cancer had a higher chance of benefiting from chemotherapy*. After completing her chemo, Kristin also elected to do radiation. She is now taking an aromatase inhibitor but is otherwise cancer free.

For Kristin’s daughter Brynn, watching what her mother and grandmother went through has made her extra vigilant about her own health. Even though she is only 20, Brynn alternates every six months with visits to her gynecologist and a breast surgeon to monitor any potential issues. She’ll begin getting annual mammograms and MRIs when she turns 31, ten years before the age her mother was when she was diagnosed.

When reflecting on what she’s learned from watching so many of her family members go through cancer treatment, Brynn says, “Communication is key. I feel very educated about breast cancer since I am at high risk, and I want to educate other people about it too.”


*A low Recurrence Score result does not mean there is no chance that your breast cancer will return. And a high Recurrence Score result does not mean that your breast cancer will definitely return. You and your provider should discuss your unique situation and personal preferences when determining your treatment plan.

Views or opinions expressed are based on the individual’s own experience and are not clinical, diagnostic, or treatment advice for any particular patient. The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score® test is ordered by your healthcare provider. Not every Oncotype DX® patient will have the same treatment, experience, outcome, or result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your breast cancer screening and/or testing options and whether the Breast Recurrence Score® test may be right for you. To learn more, visit precisiononcology.exactsciences.com.