Little Abbie comes from a family of very strong women from the Cleveland, Texas, area, including three who have fought breast cancer. One, her great-grandmother, died of breast cancer before she was born. The second, her grandmother, Jean, developed cancer shortly before Abbie’s birth. And the third, Abbie’s very own mother, Briana Roberts, was diagnosed when Abbie was just a few months old.
Just one day before her daughter’s pregnancy was announced, Jean, who was a nurse, learned that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She says she knew the diagnosis as soon as she saw the look on her ultrasound technician’s face.
“I saw her and we both knew. I just got up, told her I needed a minute, went to the corner, and cried,” Jean says. Since her mother had died of breast cancer, she was understandably confused and frightened. She retired from her position at Conroe Regional Medical Center, where her daughter also worked as a nurse, to undergo treatment.
It was only a few months after her baby granddaughter’s birth in August of 2016 that Jean found out she had been declared cancer-free, which was welcome news for the whole family. But more bad news was lurking just around the corner.
Jean’s daughter decided to get checked for the disease as well, just in case. Briana never thought it was possible that both she and her mother would have breast cancer at the same time. She was only 31 years old at the time, and her doctor assured her she had nothing to worry about. But she decided to get a second opinion, and, sure enough, her results came back positive. In fact, she received the exact same diagnosis as her mother.
Both women are now cancer-free, and they hope that Abbie won’t end up with the disease too. Given their family history, they believed it was likely that the cancer was genetic, but doctors are saying it’s not. Neither Jean nor Briana tested positive for any of the gene mutations that are known to affect breast cancer occurrence.
For the time being, Jean and Briana are simply happy to have beaten cancer and to know that the disease, while prevalent in their family, does not appear to be genetic. At least Abbie will grow up knowing about her risk and family history so that she can get checked early and often and, if she ever develops breast cancer, bravely fight and beat the disease just like her mom and grandma did.
Check out the video below to meet Jean, Briana, and Abbie and learn more about their one-in-a-million story.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?