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A Life Changing Diagnosis - Bre's Story

In June of 2022, Bre Norris received a life altering diagnosis. Bre was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cancer is nothing new to Bre - cancer has affected her family in so many ways. Bre has lost six siblings to cancer, and not a day goes by that those losses don’t affect her. Out of the eleven children, Bre is the youngest.

Bre takes her health seriously, getting mammograms annually. In 2019, Bre unintentionally missed her yearly mammogram – she was dealing with the hardships that accompanied deaths in the family. When COVID hit in 2020, she missed another annual mammogram. More tragedy struck in 2021, and so when she made it to her appointment in 2022, it was her first mammogram since 2018.

“At the beginning of 2022, I thought to myself that I needed to take care of Bre,” said Bre. “I scheduled my mammogram for the start of June.”

The mammogram came back suspicious. The radiologist immediately asked for further diagnostics, and they found calcification. The calcification was benign – but they found cells that showed DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). DCIS is a precursor to triple negative breast cancer. The cancer is contained – for now.

Normally this cancer can remain benign and does not move to invasive for three to five years, but since Bre had not had a mammogram since 2018, the doctors had no baseline to go from. Bre received a final mammogram in Delta, and her primary care doctor, Gunnison Valley Health’s medical oncologist Dr. Paulette Blanchet and the surgeon in Delta all agreed that a bi-lateral mastectomy was the only course of action.

The diagnosis and subsequent surgery have moved quickly. After receiving her diagnosis in June, surgery is scheduled for the first part of October.

“I should probably have received surgery even earlier, but I had a 24/7 patient that I was committed to – I wasn’t going to break that commitment,” said Bre.

Bre works in healthcare – doing private care giving in homes. Bre mostly does hospice and has worked with many cancer patients. She truly loves her work, and clearly takes her commitment to her patients very seriously.

“I am nervous for surgery, but surgery is surgery,” said Bre. “With my family history I cannot afford to wait, I need to take this seriously and treat it aggressively. I want to get the surgery done – living with cancer is very stressful.”

Bre is choosing to forego a reconstruction – rather using the mastectomy to add a Celtic tattoo to honor her upbringing. She was born in Ireland and refuses to let cancer get the last mark on her.

Bre’s story shares the importance of taking your healthcare seriously. Regular mammograms are so important, and had Bre not taken control of her story, it could have a different ending.

“This is a reminder to pay attention ladies,” said Bre. “Don’t put yourself on the backburner. Put yourself first, you cannot afford not to.”