If you suspect you or someone you know may be at risk for cancer — such as a family history of cancer or membership in an at-risk ethnic population — you may want to learn more about genetic screening

Adventist Health St. Helena is committed to helping patients understand their risks by offering genetic screening at each of our primary care and women's care offices. Call (707) 967-7550to learn more.

Below, learn about how genetic screening helped Rachel stay AHEAD of hereditary cancer.

Rachel's Story


Mom and nurse Rachel Kilgore was living a busy life with her husband, two active boys and career. Everyone was healthy and happy, with the focus on preventive care, healthy choices and enjoying outdoor life in Napa.

What Rachel didn’t know was that a mutation in her genes was a hidden threat to her health. At her annual visit with her gynecologist, Candace Westgate, DO, Rachel learned that her family health history, which included breast and ovarian cancer on both sides of her family tree, put her at higher risk for having hereditary cancer syndrome.

“When I told Dr. Westgate about my family history and my sister’s recent genetic screening results, she said ‘You need to be tested for hereditary cancer syndrome, and I’d like to do it today if that’s okay,’” Rachel says.

When Rachel’s results from her cheek swab came back from the lab, Dr. Westgate broke the news: she was positive for a mutation in her BRCA 1 gene, which put her at much higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her lifetime. “I was looking at 87 percent chance of breast cancer and 40 to 60 percent chance of ovarian cancer,” Rachel describes. “I was very fortunate to meet Dr. Westgate and to have the knowledge to make decisions to prevent that risk.”

After receiving the news, Dr. Westgate worked with Rachel to develop a care management plan that included more rigorous screenings. “I had a breast MRI, and the showed some areas of concern,” Rachel remembers. “Even though the results of an ultrasound and mammogram came back negative, the first thing that ran through my head was ‘this time.’ I wasn’t willing to live with that shadow over my family’s future.”

Ultimately, Rachel chose to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy, hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Thanks to the skills of Dr. Westgate and Dr. Anne Peled, a breast surgeon, Rachel was able to have all three procedures as well as breast reconstruction done on the same day, greatly lessening her time in the operating room and allowing her one recovery instead of going through three or more surgeries.“Now, I’m back to normal, exercising, enjoying time with my family and looking forward to watching my boys grow. I don’t regret it, and would do it again.”

Visit our website to learn more about the Adventist Health Early All-Around Detection (AHEAD) program, or make an appointment in our Napa or St. Helena location today (707) 967-7550