Health Plus: Family Cancer Curse - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Family Cancer Curse

Your lifestyle can greatly impact your health.

But there is a genetic component to some diseases, like cancer.

In Health Plus, one eastern Iowa woman shares details about what she calls her family's cancer curse.

So many of Mary Balik's family members have cancer, it's hard to keep track.

"I was the 13th one on my dad's side of the family to have some form of cancer. There's now 18 of us. 3 of us have beaten it. 7 of them have died and 4 are in treatment."

It's been almost 5 years since she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo.

She credits the medical staff with saving her life when they insisted a spot on her breast be biopsied.

"Mary we found on a routine mammogram nearly 5 years ago. She's doing wonderful," says Lisa Walker, a mammography supervisor.

Mary says her lumpectomy took out the cancer cells but with what she calls her family cancer curse, she wanted to be sure.

"With my family history and end everything, I did 33 radiation treatments. 4 1/2 years and I'm clean."

As the mammography supervisor at Covenant's Comprehensive Breast Center for more than two decades, walker says her mission is to address patient concerns right away.

"Our goal here is to find it, take care of it the same day and then most of the time we can get those results back in 24 hours. And that's huge for the patients."

Mary agrees.

Get in when something's not right.

"Sure there's some discomfort having a mammogram, but there's a lot more discomfort if you don't have it and don't get detected and let it run."

Her fight against cancer is over, but Mary admits to feeling guilty at times her family members haven't all had such a positive outcome.

Covenant's Cancer Treatment Center provides comprehensive breast cancer treatment to thousands of women in eastern Iowa.

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