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Family's Surging Cancer Rate

Four generations of women in one Louisiana family have had cancer. Now the family is looking to genetic testing to try to find out what is behind all of these cases.
(KPLC)  Just like the Grigg's family quilt is woven together by a common thread, so are the lives of the women in the Louisiana family, all affected by cancer. 

"My grandmother, my mother, me, Shea, first cousins, second cousins, aunts," said June Grigg.

June's list can go on and on, adding in the names of close relatives diagnosed with cancer: breast, esophageal, thyroid, colon, leukemia, sarcoma and melanoma.  

Cancer did not personally affect June and her husband until their then 15-year-old daughter, Shea, was diagnosed with an aggressive sarcoma. "I was shocked," said June, "we were both shocked.  I think her dad just hit the floor."

Then, in 1987, June found a lump in her breast. "All these other people who had breast cancer started tickling that little part of you that says 'maybe there's something to this,'" she said.

Both women bounced back - June as a teacher and Shea as a school social worker, wife and mom.

When Shea felt a lump in her breast this year, she knew her next move. "The only choice for me is bilateral mastectomies, there's no other option for me."

Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston asked Shea if they could study her case more closely. 

"They really feel strongly that there is some kind of genetic component in the family," said Shea, "but maybe it's just one that they have not been able to isolate yet."

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