DENVER (CBS4) – Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie says she underwent a preventive double mastectomy. The tough decision came after she took a genetic test and learned she had a high risk of getting cancer.
Jolie learned she had the breast cancer gene mutation after losing her mother to ovarian cancer and she didn’t want her children to go through a battle with cancer.
Jolie’s revelation shocked many, but it also strengthened the resolve of others in her situation. CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh met a Colorado woman who made the same choice, and she has never looked back.
For as long as she can remember, Lauri Hornsby feared getting breast cancer. Her mother had it as well as two aunts and both grandmothers.
“I knew it was coming my way,” Hornsby said.
At 28, Hornsby did genetic testing.
“I was positive to the BRCA1 one genetic mutation,” Hornsby said. “At that point I gave the results to my doctor and I put them in my drawer.”
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Six years and two sons later, Hornsby took action. In 2011 she had a preventive double mastectomy.
“It was kind of a relief knowing that I wouldn’t have to dread the next mammogram or tell my kids I was sick,” she said.
This year Hornsby had her ovaries removed. She was shocked to learn about Jolie.
“Her story, we read it this morning and it mirrored mine.”
Hornsby commends Jolie, as does genetic counselor Mary Freivogel with Invision Sally Jobe.
“Hopefully a lot of people will be more aware of asking questions about their family history of breast and ovarian cancer,” Freivogel said.
Genetic testing is done with a blood sample or a mouthwash sample that gathers cheek cells.
“A lot of people feel that knowledge is power, so if I know what my risks are I can do things to change those risks,” Freivogel said.
But it’s not for everyone.
“Some people feel that it’s just something they don’t want to know,” Freivogel said.
Hornsby found out and fought. Today she feels much better about her future.
The hope is Jolie’s story gives others courage. Those who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer and want a genetic test should check with their doctor. It costs approximately $4,000. Check to see if the insurance company covers it.
LINK: Invision Sally Jobe