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Family makes difference for Ginny Sapp in breast cancer fight

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After Ginny Sapp’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, Sapp began having annual mammograms.

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Ginny Sapp has a family history of breast cancer and carries the BRCA1 gene, putting her at a high risk for having the disease.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Ginny Sapp has a family history of breast cancer and carries the BRCA1 gene, putting her at a high risk for having the disease.

In late 2002, a mammogram picked up something in her right breast. Doctors weren’t sure what they were looking at and scheduled a sonogram.

“I had to have some type of test where they had to run a wire into that spot,” she said. The test came back fine, but within six months the “spot” had grown and another biopsy detected cancer.

Because of her family history and the fact that she also carries the BRCA1 gene, she chose to have both breasts removed. Within a year, she also had a hysterectomy to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer.

“In the beginning I was kind of numb to what was going on,” she said. “It was kind of depressing.”

But she said she realized she needed to be strong for her children. With the support of her family and the example her mother set during her own battle with breast cancer, Sapp said she made it through.

“My mom acted like it was a cold to her,” she said. “She was real strong. I think that motivated me to be strong.”

ABOUT GINNY SAPP

AGE: 44

FAMILY: Children, Joshua and Kayla Purkey

OCCUPATION: Appraiser for Richmond County

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: April 2003; double mastectomy, oral chemotherapy pills for five years

HER ADVICE: “Stay positive. Stay close with your family. Let them be there to talk to and support you. A lot of prayer. Don’t give up. You fight to the end. You just don’t give up.”


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