With two children in college, two still in high school, and her husband Ric fighting throat cancer, Linda Blum was a busy mom, wife and caregiver, not to mention school board president and cheerleading coach.
Then, on a Sunday night in May 2005, Linda saw a lump as a dimpling in her right breast. She saw it rather than felt it, thinking, “How could I have missed this?!” Only a few months overdue for her routine checkup, the fact was, she had missed it. Linda immediately went for a mammogram at Good Samaritan North Health Center. At the Samaritan Breast Center, she was told something was “suspicious” and she needed to have a biopsy immediately.
“My brain didn’t want to go there. I had too much to live for,” she said. “I wasn’t going to roll up in a ball and take this lying down.” Linda had a lumpectomy, followed by an intensive round of chemotherapy and radiation. Within seven months, she was cancer-free.
When she was originally diagnosed, no one in her family had any form of breast cancer. Within three years, however, five cousins on her father’s side had been diagnosed with either melanoma or breast cancer. This prompted Linda to get tested for a breast cancer gene mutation. She tested positive for BRCA2 mutation, giving her a 50 to 60 percent likelihood of recurrence of breast cancer within five years, as well as a 15 to 30 percent risk of ovarian cancer. As a preventive measure, Linda chose to have a bilateral mastectomy, and plans to have a hysterectomy later this year.
After her positive genetic test, she sat all her cousins down and implored them to also get tested. And, when the time is right, she hopes her three daughters will get tested, too. “The more information you’re armed with, the better decisions you can make.”
Linda was recently the torchbearer at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. She regularly speaks about her successful battle with breast cancer, and of the importance of routine mammograms and genetic testing. She encourages women to educate themselves about the risks and learn if they might be in a high-risk category, and advocates for genetic testing when the time is right.
“We have great medical care in this community—right here in Dayton! These are professionals who can help you find your way through your journey,” she said.
“I am the luckiest person in the world, with the team of doctors I have at Good Sam. I trust them 110 percent.”
Content Updated: December 4, 2014