AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal is to spread awareness about breast cancer and encourage increased screening.

Debbie Padgett has been working in women’s health for thirty years. In 2019, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“I did not know that I had the genetic gene, had a total hysterectomy, and from that point I had the genetic testing, met with the genetic counselors, and tested positive for BRCA1, which put me at a very high risk for ovarian and breast cancer. I had already had ovarian cancer. I had a 40 percent chance of getting ovarian, but a 57 to 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer,” said Padgett.

Speaking with a genetic counselor was an important step for Debbie to take.

“It’s important to meet with us just so we can help you gather your family history, personal history, and come to a decision on what type of genetic test, if any is appropriate for you,” said Certified Genetic Counselor, Morgan Luevano.

“I would say the main reasons people come in for genetic testing are potentially to find an explanation for their personal or family history of cancer. Sometimes genetic testing can find answers for that. Other individuals get genetic testing because they’re concerned about their kids and they want to know if they have an increased risk for cancer that can be passed down to their children, and they’re the best person to test, that can be informative for their kids,” said Certified Genetic Counselor, Erica Trujillo.

Debbie’s journey was a tough one, but with the help of her doctors and genetic counseling, she was able to get a good result.

“Opted for a prophylactic mastectomy and I did the expanders back in March of 2022, and three weeks ago I had my expanders out and got my reconstruction, and I’m cancer free,” said Debbie.
Debbie’s experience not only affected her, but her children as well.

“Since my mom had gotten tested positive for the gene, myself and both my sisters all got tested. More than likely if mom hadn’t gotten tested and gone through it I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor to get tested,” said Debbie’s daughter Ashlie Padgett.

“If there’s a family history, get tested, definitely get tested,” said Debbie.

Debbie appreciates what her doctors did for her and her family and hopes that her story will encourage others to get tested.

“I have three girls, they all got tested. My middle daughter who just turned 33 found a lump and she had breast cancer, so she had a long road ahead of her but she’s doing great. She’s cancer free.”

The Miracle Mile Walk is happening Saturday, October 15th, at the Augusta Common, 836 Reynolds Street.