Edward-Elmhurst Health: Elmhurst woman discovers the BRCA gene and takes health into her own hands

Like most people, Mary Bis knew she wanted a long and healthy life, she just needed a few extra measures to keep her health under control.

Bis, 44, from Elmhurst, has a family history of cancer. While her mother was under treatment, internal medicine suggested her mother, Diane Fabrizius, MD, Bis and her siblings get tested for the breast cancer gene (BRCA).

“We did it together. Most of my family members have been tested for the BRCA gene, including my aunts and cousins,” she says.

Bis met with a genetic counselor who did her blood test and mapped her family tree. Her results were BRCA positive. She knew she had to do something, but the timing had to be right.

“I wanted to have children first and I was also committed to my job. After my mother’s death, that accelerated things. I knew I had to get my life going and take my own risk,” she says.

At the age of 35, Bis met her husband Ian and they had two children, Archie, 8 and Rocky, 6. There was no better time than the present.

Her doctor, obstetrician and gynecologist Brian Sklar, MD, performed an oophorectomy to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. She then had a prophylactic double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. When she finished her preventive surgeries, she began breast reconstruction.

The road to recovery had begun, but she was not recovering as quickly as she had hoped.

“During recovery, I gained a lot of weight, which made the healing process a lot more difficult,” she says.

Bis struggled with shortness of breath, back pain, joint pain and sleep apnea due to being overweight. She knew she needed a permanent solution. She did research on bariatric surgery, but the idea was daunting – it was another surgery and another recovery.

“When I read that gastric bypass was done laparoscopically, it helped me speed up my decision-making,” she says.

She attended her first briefing with obesity and obesity medicine specialists Mark Choh, MD and Omar Shamsi, MD. Both doctors supported her and guided her through the process. Hearing the health benefits of surgery – which were more than just weight loss – hit a nerve.

“When Dr. Choh mentioned that gastric bypass would help my metabolism, I knew it was right for me because I didn’t have to break a lot of bad habits. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew that I would have to work hard to make sure the surgery was effective. “

Determined to get her weight under control and reduce her risk of serious health problems again, she completed the checklist of required appointments.

The operation was minimally invasive with a short healing time. When it was over, Bis was ready to see results, but it all depended on her commitment.

“I had to learn my new stomach capacity. I had to monitor what and when I ate.”

At some point she got into a rhythm. When she started seeing results, she wanted more.

“I’ve lost over 150 pounds, have more energy, more comfort while exercising, and enjoy being active. It got to the point where I stopped looking at the number on the scale and watching my body change transformed. “

Until continues to go to Dr. Shamsi to make sure she stays successful and is not deficient in vitamins and nutrients.

“It can be difficult for gastric bypass patients to get used to the way their bodies eat, but the effects of proper diet and exercise are beneficial for many reasons,” says Dr. Shamsi.

Until ‘preventive surgeries have helped her avoid health problems before they can start. Not only did she reduce her risk of cancer, but also her risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other obesity-related diseases.

Bis says, “It’s hard to believe when I started this journey I had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and now I have less than a two percent chance while reducing my risk of other health problems . That was not the case.” simple, but I know that these operations will have a huge impact on my quality of life in the future. “

Learn more at http://www.eehealth.org/services/cancer/genetic-counseling and http://www.eehealth.org/services/endeavor-health-weight-management.