Actress Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy is sparking strong emotions from women over the questions of whether genetic testing for breast cancer is for everyone, and whether women should have breast surgery, even if they don't have cancer.
It's not an easy decision for any woman to decide to have breast surgery even though they haven't been diagnosed with cancer. Shawna Keen said a double mastectomy is something she has to do, not just for herself, but for her two young daughters.
The 33-year-old mother of two never knew her grandmother, but the woman may have saved Keen's life.
"For me to be able to identify the mutation, it's going to make a difference for generations to come," said Shawna Keen who tested positive for BRCA gene mutation.
In 2010, Keen who happens to be a mammogram technician, got tested for the BRCA gene mutation, which can cause breast and ovarian cancer, the two diseases that took her grandmother's life.
Keen tested positive and her first emotion, especially as a mother of two, was relief.
"Now that I know early, they can know early, so it's not only something that can save my life, it could save theirs."
Keen has already had her ovaries removed to lessen her chance of getting cancer and at the end of this year, she will undergo a double mastectomy.
Medical oncologist Doctor James Sanchez believes Keen is doing the right thing.
"By taking the step, she reduces chance of developing breast cancer by greater than 90 percent," Sanchez said.
He adds, removing your breasts or ovaries does not guarantee you'll never get cancer, but if you have strong family history of the disease, not doing so can lead to a deadly alternative.
"The decision is a very gut wrenching decision. Our job is to let them know what the options are, what the potential risks are."))
"I think about my grandmother sometimes. If she would have been able to test it, it could have saved her life, but i'm very appreciative to her because it definitely saved mine."
Keen says, when the time comes, she is happy that the testing will also be an option for her two daughters.
BRCA gene mutilation testing can cost as much as $3,000. There are a number of organizations that offers financial assistance for patients without or with little insurance.
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