Andrea Horan, wife of Horan & McConaty President and CEO John Horan, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. This dreadfully alarming news turned the Horan family’s lives upside-down.
“My maternal aunt had breast cancer when she was about 38, and she had a mastectomy and was cured,” Andrea explains. Andrea also had a great grandmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Knowing all that, I started having mammograms from the time when I turned 30.”
Andrea went in for a mammogram every single year until 1999, when she and John’s fourth child, John Luke, was born. Because Andrea was nursing, she had to skip her mammogram that year. The following year, Andrea was no longer nursing her son so she went back to be screened. Unfortunately, unlike all the mammograms she had received in the past, this one wasn’t normal.
Andrea still vividly remembers the day she got the call from her doctor. “It was 7:30 in the morning. I was getting my kids ready for school, and I received a call from my OB,” she recalls. “And although I love him, your doctor doesn’t call you at home at 7:30 in the morning.”
The doctor told Andrea her mammogram didn’t look normal. He then delivered the terrible news: Andrea had DCIS or Ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS is a noninvasive breast cancer in the lining of the milk ducts that has not yet invaded nearby tissues. However, if left untreated, DCIS can progress to invasive cancer. “He said if you have to have breast cancer, it’s one of the most easily treatable,” Andrea said.
Still, the news was a huge shock to Andrea and her family. “I remember the morning Andrea’s doctor told her she had breast cancer,” John reflects. “Most of all, I remember the fears of our children and ourselves, and the questions. ‘Why her? Now what? Is mom going to die?’ Thankfully, we were able to get answers quickly.”
“It seemed like everybody sprang into action,” Andrea says. Soon after her diagnosis, Andrea underwent a lumpectomy just days after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the pathologist came back with the news that the margins were not clear, so Andrea was scheduled for a complete mastectomy.
“I was in the hospital the day after Christmas for surgery because we were just going as fast as we could,” she remembers. Andrea underwent mastectomy and reconstruction at the same. Although she was anxious about the procedure, Andrea says the surgeons helped calm her nerves.
“My surgeon and plastic surgeon who performed the mastectomy and reconstruction are both women, and they were both in the operating room at the same time,” Andrea says. “They were absolutely wonderful. They were really supportive, and I just can’t say enough about them. They made the experience so much better than it could have been.”
Soon after her surgery, Andrea went home to recover with her family. “My recovery was actually pretty uneventful,” Andrea says, pointing out that her family and friends helped her through it all. “John was wonderful support, as were all my family and friends.” A few months later, Andrea had fully recovered from her surgery, and she finally received some great news: She was all clear. She wouldn’t have to go through chemo or radiation.
“Since that time, I’ve just had a lot of follow-ups and of course continuing mammograms,” Andrea says. “I’ve reached the 10-year mark, at which point you feel like you don’t have to think about it on a daily basis.”
After she was diagnosed, Andrea also underwent genetic testing to find out if her three daughters could be affected. Fortunately, she received more wonderful news: although there is a history of breast of cancer in Andrea’s family, it is not genetic. “That was good news, especially for my daughters,” Andrea says.
Since Andrea’s frightening ordeal, the Horan family has realized the enormous importance of early breast cancer detection. “After I found out I had breast cancer, all of my friends went in for mammograms,” says Andrea. “In fact, when I was being wheeled off to surgery, one of my friends was going in for a mammogram at the same time. It was kind of a wake-up call for them.”
One in seven women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, early detection through screening mammography greatly improves treatment options and helps save lives. “I believe early detection saved my life,” Andrea says. “My breast cancer was treatable because it was discovered at such an early stage. Take the time to learn about breast screening options- for your own sake and for your loved ones.”