Her sister’s breast cancer might have saved Carla Hudson’s life.
About a month before her sister, Amy Richey, was diagnosed, Hudson had had her annual mammogram, which came back normal.
“I remember going to her when she had her mastectomy, and I had no idea I had cancer in my right breast,” she said.
When Richey tested positive for the BRCA gene, Hudson’s doctors wanted to take a closer look, and Hudson’s test for the gene came back positive as well. Although the tumor didn’t show up on the previous mammogram, Hudson said she did have a symptom – profuse itching in the breast, which had been attributed to dry skin. It was under that spot where the tumor was growing.
“I felt it was a definite warning,” she said.
Further tests, including a sonogram and an MRI, revealed a small tumor that was previously missed. Hudson can only think what might’ve happened had that tumor been allowed to grow unchecked until the next year’s mammogram.
Hudson had a double mastectomy, an oophorectomy and three months of chemotherapy. She’s taking tamoxifin.
Hudson tried to keep her life as normal as possible and continued her job in card services at the Augusta VAH Credit Union.
Having a supportive family was so important through her cancer journey, she said, and even though her sister lives in Atlanta, the two of them were there for each other.
Now, Hudson tells women to be their own advocates, which is advice she’s passing along to her daughters, Natalie, 20, and Claire, 16. While they haven’t been tested for the gene, they are under the eye of their doctor.
“I just want women to be more diligent about changes in their breasts,” she said.