High Hopes, High Heels: Ascension Seton Doctor Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer



Dr. Esther Yaniv and her husband Gabe, Stiletto Stampede 2012

Dr. Esther Yaniv was just 28 years old when doctors told her, more likely than not, she would develop breast cancer at some point in her life.

The news, while difficult to accept, did not come as a surprise.

Yaniv, a specialist in pain management and physical medicine with the Ascension Seton Brain and Spine Institute, lost her grandmother to breast cancer and stood by her mother’s side through diagnosis, treatment and, thankfully, remission.

“I was of the mindset where I could just live with my head in the sand and be ignorantly blissful or I could find out and do the appropriate things to take care of myself,” said Yaniv, now 39 years old. “I decided to be proactive.”

She decided to get gene testing and learned she had a gene mutation. The result: her chances of developing cancer were greater than 90 percent. A woman’s risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer increases if she inherits a mutation in the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene. There are options to help monitor cancer risk if a harmful mutation is discovered.

“At first, I just did mammograms every six months. But when I went through an ultrasound and biopsy, I got scared and thought, ‘why risk it at all?,’ ” she said.

In August, 2009, to further reduce her risk, Yaniv underwent a double mastectomy, the same preventative measure actress Angelina Jolie and a growing number of women at high risk have opted to take.

“The thing about Angelina Jolie and media craze is at least its bringing attention to it. It shouldn’t scare people, not everyone needs to go out and get a double mastectomy, but you should be aware,” Yaniv said.

Now, she’s using her experience to make a difference, raising money and awareness for breast cancer and organizing this year’s Stiletto Stampede benefit in Austin. The race, scheduled for Oct. 26 at the Triangle, empowers young women and men to understand the risks of breast cancer and to seek early detection, screening methods and education.

“We have something for everyone – a stroller stampede for young mothers with kids, a pooch scootch so you can dress up your dogs in all kinds of pink and it’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s about representing the organization and reaching out to the community.”

A portion of the race proceeds will benefit the new Breast Care Center at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin. There’s even a heat of the race exclusively for Ascension Seton employees. Yaniv is hopeful a little fun in high heels will garner attention for a serious cause.

“My advice is to just know,” she said. “Know your risk, know your family history and definitely know your options.”

Stiletto Stampede

When: Oct. 26, 2013, at 10 a.m.
Where: The Triangle, 4600 W. Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78751

Regular Individual Registration: $40, available online until noon on Oct. 25.
Day of Individual Registration: $45
Girlfriend Pass: $75, available online until noon on Oct. 25. Receive a discount for registering yourself and a friend at the same time.

Race Heats:

  • The Stiletto Stampede: The original 100 yard dash in heels
  • Ascension Seton Shuffle: A heat for all Ascension Seton employees
  • The Survivor Stampede: Honoring all breast cancer survivors
  • The Stroller Stampede: Family race
  • The Men’s Heat: Men support the cause-heels encouraged
  • The Bulldog Solutions’ Pooch Scooch: Support the cause with man’s best friend
  • The Boot Scoot: A new twist on the Stiletto Stampede

Click here to register.