Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Me and the Girls: Jennifer Mukai

Font Size
A
A
A

continued...

"I decided on bilateral mastectomy," she says. That's surgery to remove both breasts -- the one with the tumor and the other one, which showed no signs of cancer.

Mukai wasn't keen on the idea of getting radiation therapy, and she also wanted to minimize her risk of recurrence.

"For me, it was a matter of survival," Mukai says. "I really didn't want to go through this again, given that I have, perhaps, 40-plus years to live. ... My breasts are a part of me, but they don't define who I am. So I really had no issues taking them away."

Genetic testing showed no BRCA gene mutations tied to breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

But with a family history of pancreatic cancer, Mukai thought that she might have genetic risk factors that haven't been discovered yet. "I'm in prevention mode," she says.

Mukai is of Japanese ancestry. Breast cancer is rarer in Asian women than in white or African-American women. But breast cancer cases are rising for Asian-American women. That may be because they're adapting to Western diets and lifestyles, but that's not certain.

Building her team: Mukai met with doctors from two different facilities before deciding to get treated at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Mukai liked the fact that her doctors all worked together in the same place, and she encourages other breast cancer patients to "take the time to get a really good team of doctors you feel comfortable with. For me, that was important, that I had a group of people that gave me the confidence to make those decisions."

Her team included a nutritionist whose advice helped Mukai regain a sense of control.

"What I have found with the diagnosis is you have a sense of loss of control of your body. I thought that I was healthy, I thought that I ate the right things, I rarely get sick, so to have a diagnosis of cancer is kind of like something let you down. Seeing a nutritionist put that control back in my lap a bit -- getting an understanding of what foods I should eat, how much of it, exercise, those were the more tangible things that I could do during this process that could give me a sense of control," Mukai says.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW