WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- In November, we told you about Allyn Rose, the DC representative in the Miss America contest. Because she carries the same gene mutation that killed her mother, the 24-year-old will undergo a double mastectomy next month to avoid breast cancer.
Cara Scharf faced a similar dilemma. At age 22, she tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation. A frightening time, but Cara found strength through the healing power of the arts.
Cara is always happiest when she sings. She's passionate about the healing power of the arts. It's what she advocates in her work at the Global Alliance for Arts & Health and it's what helped her come out on top after a devastating diagnosis.
At age 22, Cara Scharf learned she carried the BRCA 1 gene mutation that put her at higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer. Her grandmother died of ovarian cancer; her mom Marcy passed away from breast cancer when Cara was 3.
"I didn't want to be the next Scharf woman to pass away from this disease," shared Cara.
Yet, Cara decided against having a double mastectomy before being diagnosed in order to lower her breast cancer risks. She explained, "I knew there were really good ways to look for cancer and surveillance was a good option and that's what I chose at the time.
But time wasn't on her side. At 25, her first baseline MRI spotted a malignant tumor.
"You hear those words and everything just kinda stops-- a breast cancer diagnosis, you can't think about anything else..." remembered Cara.
The cancer was in one breast, but because of the gene mutation, this time, Cara had a double mastectomy, plus six weeks of chemotherapy.
From the diagnosis in March to the completion of all her surgeries and treatments in December, 2011 was a long and frightening time for Cara. But having music to listen to and being able to sing, even a sad song, helped her survive.
"...thru the music, someone else is singing about their own pain or their own heartache, or whatever they're singing about. So you kinda feel less alone," said Cara.
To get a Buddy Check 9 kit including two DVDs on how to do a Breast Self Exam for you and your Buddy, visit the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center site: http://lombardi.georgetown.edu/