AND BREAST CANCER
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.
THE POWER OF A POSITIVE FIGHT
“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
The AIS Cancer
Center’s website atwecanbeatcancer.org .
Search for “Genetic
“Braylee has done so well,”
Markie says. “She would
tell me: ‘Don’t be sad,
Mom. Your brown hair will
‘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
“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
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.