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Based on their family history,

some women seek genetic coun-

seling and testing to learn more

about their specific risk for breast

cancer. That knowledge can help

them take steps to protect their


Genetic testing can also be ben-

eficial after a diagnosis of breast

cancer. Surgeons and oncologists

at The AIS Cancer Center at San

Joaquin Community Hospital

(SJCH) use it—along with other

tests—to tailor specific treatments.

This helps ensure patients get the

best possible care and recovery.


“I blocked out any negative energy because you have to fight, but in

a positive way. Make sure you’re surrounded by positive people.”

—Markie Layton, breast cancer survivor

What about the cost?

One concern about genetic

testing may be the cost. At The

AIS Cancer Center, genetic coun-

selors work with insurance com-

panies to get the tests covered.

In rare cases where the testing

is needed and not covered, The

San Joaquin Community Hospital

Foundation has set up community-

donated funds to help patients

get testing.

Learn more.


The AIS Cancer

Center’s website at .

Search for “Genetic


“Braylee has done so well,”

Markie says. “She would

tell me: ‘Don’t be sad,

Mom. Your brown hair will

grow back.’”

‘I’m happy with the

person I’ve become’

For now, Markie keeps

herself stylish with a collec-

tion of beautiful wigs, and

she feels much better. She’s

moving on, but her life is

still touched by cancer. She

takes two different medi-

cations. For the next five

years, she’ll receive monthly injections to keep her

ovaries from producing estrogen. This temporary,

menopause-like state reduces her risk of a recur-

rence. It also means she has to accept that she

can’t get pregnant anytime soon.

Still, Markie remains optimistic about her future.

In fact, she believes staying upbeat is a powerful

weapon against cancer—and she wants others to

know that.

“I blocked out any negative energy because

you have to fight, but in a positive way,” Markie

says. “Make sure you’re surrounded by positive


Markie is grateful for finding just that at The

AIS Cancer Center. “The doctors, the nurses,

everyone there is so great,” she says. “They are

your team, but they become family.”

As far as facing breast cancer so young, Markie

has found something positive about that too.

She uses her experience to open a dialogue

about cancer and breast health with other young


She’s also gained a certain wisdom—a more

meaningful appreciation for life.

“It was devastating, but I have a whole new

perspective,” Markie says. “I’ve changed, and I’m

happy with the person I’ve become.”

As a young woman

of only 22, Markie

Layton already thought she had her hands full.

She was adjusting to a new town, a new home

and the challenges of raising a 3-year-old.

She didn’t realize her toughest challenge was

still ahead.

In November 2015, just two days after her 23rd

birthday, Markie learned she had breast cancer.

The discovery came after a benign cyst in Markie’s

right breast became painfully inflamed. When she

visited Quest Imaging at San Joaquin Community

Hospital (SJCH) for an ultrasound, a tumor was

detected next to the cyst. A biopsy of the tumor

came back as positive for stage I cancer.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it—cancer?” Markie

says. “Then I was just really, really scared. I wanted

it out of me.”

Caring support through tough times

Markie met with Vikas Ghai, MD, FACP, an oncolo-

gist at The AIS Cancer Center at SJCH. Together,

they decided on a treatment plan that was right

for her. She would undergo a mastectomy of her

right breast. She had her surgery in February 2016

and began chemotherapy in March.

Markie felt confident in the exceptional care

at The AIS Cancer Center—and comforted by

Dr. Ghai—from the beginning. “Dr. Ghai was so

attentive,” she says. “He answered all my ques-

tions, and he really cares.”

During her three weeks of chemotherapy,

Markie became extremely ill.

“Chemo was very hard for me,” she says. “I had

to be hospitalized twice.” She also lost her beautiful

brown hair as well as 10 percent of her body weight.

Through the worst of it, she knew she had

something heartening to cling to: the unwavering

support of her favorite people—her boyfriend,

Justin, and her daughter, Braylee.

They always made sure she felt loved and reas-

sured her that everything would be OK, she says.

Braylee, about to turn 4, offered a dose of

courage that continues to inspire her mother.

Markie (in her blonde wig)

enjoys being able to play

with her daughter.