Cynthia Bailey Celebrates Her Mother's Cancer Journey Milestone
- Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey, 55, recently shared that her mother’s breast cancer surgery was a success. Now, she’s resting and recovering ahead of radiation treatments, but she will not need chemotherapy.
- Breast cancer is a common cancer that has been the subject of much research, so there are many treatment options out there. Mammograms, a standard screening procedure for breast cancer, and self breast exams can save lives.
- The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.
- Risk factors for breast cancer include: being a woman, age, family history, having had a prior biopsy on an abnormal area, radiation exposure, lifetime estrogen exposure, not having a child before age 30 or never having children, obesity, drinking alcohol and lack of exercise.
Watching a parent fight a cancer battle can be heartbreaking and stressful. But thankfully for Bailey, her mother, Barbara Ford Morris, is making her way towards cancer-free.Read More
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“Woke up this morning feeling blessed,” she wrote under a photo of her smiling mother. “Happy and grateful to share with all you that my mother @barbarafmorris surgery was successful yesterday.
“We did have some issues with her blood pressure being too high at the beginning & at the end of the surgery but by the grace of God her doctor & her amazing team at #emoryhospital were able to get everything under control.”
She went on to express her gratitude for the followers that made a point to support her during this difficult time.
“Thank you all again for all the social media love, phone calls, text and most importantly the prayers,” she wrote. “I apologize to anyone that reached out & did not get a timely response from me. it was a very early & very long day and my priority was to keep my mother mentally & emotionally comfortable.
“Oh & thank you to everyone that jumped on my ig live while i was waiting for the surgery to be completed.
i rarely go live but i am glad i did because all the love, prayers & well wishes helped me relax and stay strong for my mom… i did get a little emotional but it felt good to cry, and let it all out.”
Now, Morris is “resting and recovering” under the watchful eye of her daughter.
“She took care of me my whole life and now it’s my turn to take care of her,” Bailey wrote. “You only get one mother, cherish them.”
But Bailey did not stop her caption there. She also made a point to remind her female followers about the importance of mammograms.
“Ladies please make sure you get your yearly mammogram,” she wrote. “That is how we found the cancer. Early detection is key.”
Cynthia Bailey’s Mother Faces Cancer
Morris was recently diagnosed with breast cancer after something popped up on a mammogram.
“She didn’t feel anything but it showed up on her most recent mammogram,” Bailey wrote in another Instagram post from earlier this month. “By the grace of God, we caught it early & it is only stage one.”
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Morris underwent a lumpectomy just the other day to remove her cancer, and Bailey’s fans got an update on the same day as her surgery.
“Thank you for all the love, phone calls, texts and prayers everyone,” Bailey wrote under a picture of her sitting by her mother’s hospital bed. “My mother @barbarafmorris is a little anxious & nervous but otherwise in good spirits mentally and emotionally.
“Her blood pressure was too high to operate when they prepped her but thankfully they were able to get it down before the surgery. now we pray and wait.”
As we’ve said before, Morris’ treatment was successful, and Bailey’s beloved mother is resting ahead of radiation treatments. Thankfully, she will not have to undergo chemotherapy as well.
Understanding The Cancer Cynthia Bailey’s Mother Has Faced: Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a common cancer that has been the subject of much research. Many women develop breast cancer every year, but men can develop this cancer too – though it is more rare, in part, due to the simple fact that they have less breast tissue.
There are many treatment options for people with this disease, but treatment depends greatly on the specifics of each case. Identifying these specifics means looking into whether the cancerous cells have certain receptors. These receptors – the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor – can help identify the unique features of the cancer and help personalize treatment.
“These receptors, I like to imagine them like little hands on the outside of the cell, they can grab hold of what we call ligands, and these ligands are essentially the hormones that may be circulating in the bloodstream that can then be pulled into this cancer cell and used as a fertilizer, as growth support for the cells,” Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
One example of a type of ligand that can stimulate a cancer cell is the hormone estrogen, hence why an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer will grow when stimulated by estrogen. For these cases, your doctor may offer treatment that specifically targets the estrogen receptor. But for HER2 positive breast cancers, therapies that uniquely target the HER2 receptor may be the most beneficial.
The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening
Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.
For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer such as a BRCA gene mutation or a medical history including chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. Beyond genetics, family history and experience with radiation therapy, experiencing menstruation at an early age (before 12) or having dense breasts can also put you into a high-risk category. If you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, you should begin screening earlier.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Connie Lehman, chief of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, said people who hadn’t reached menopause yet should prioritize getting a mammogram every year.
“We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving,” Dr. Lehman said. “After menopause, it may be perfectly acceptable to reduce that frequency to every two years. But what I’m most concerned about is the women who haven’t been in for a mammogram for two, three or four years, those women that have never had a mammogram. We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives.”
It’s also important to be on top of self breast exams. If you ever feel a lump in your breast, you should be vigilant and speak with your doctor right away. Voicing your concerns as soon as you have them can lead to earlier cancer detection which, in turn, can lead to better outcomes.
Thinking about Your Breast Cancer Risk
The risk of developing breast cancer varies greatly from person to person, so it’s important to discuss your specific risk level with your doctor. That being said, there are some important risk factors to keep in mind.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Comen laid out several risk factors for breast cancer including:
- Being a woman: Women are at a higher risk for breast cancer, though men can get the disease too.
- Age: “Breast cancer becomes increasingly more common as women age,” Dr. Comen said.
- Family history: “Some people think that breast cancer is only inherited through genes on the mom’s side,’ Dr. Comen said. “But it can also be related to genetic mutations that could be found on the father’s side.”
- Having had a prior biopsy on an abnormal area: “There are different markers, that if a woman has had a biopsy, it’s important that she talk to her doctor about whether those markers are lending themselves to an increased risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Comen said. If you’ve had a biopsy that indicated atypical hyperplasia, for example, you are at an increased risk of breast cancer. Atypical hyperplasia isn’t cancer, but it is a precancerous condition that describes an accumulation of abnormal cells in the milk ducts and lobules of the breast.
- Radiation exposure: Cancer survivors who’ve had radiation to their chest are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Lifetime estrogen exposure: “About 2/3 of breast cancer are driven by the hormone estrogen,” Dr. Comen said. “So, that means if a woman has had her period at an early age and started to go through puberty at an early age, at seven, eight, nine, and potentially a later age of menopause, means that her lifetime of having had menstrual periods and being exposed to higher levels of estrogen is higher, and therefore her risk of breast cancer is slightly higher.”
- Not having a child before age 30 or never having children
- Drinking alcohol
- Lack of exercise: “While there’s more research to be done in this area, it looks like if a woman is not exercising, she may also increase her risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Comen said.