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My Preventive Mastectomy: Staying Alive for My Kids

By: Allison Gilbert, Special to CNN
By: Allison Gilbert, Special to CNN

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

More information: Click here

I'm not a helicopter parent and my children would tell you I don't bake cupcakes for their birthday parties. But I'd readily cut off my breasts for them -- and recently, I did.

Removing breast tissue uncompromised by cancer is relatively easy. It took the breast surgeon about two hours to slice through my chest and complete the double mastectomy seven weeks ago.

The time-consuming part was left to the plastic surgeon who created new breasts out of my own belly fat so I could avoid getting implants. Total operating time: 11.5 hours. And I don't regret a second.

The decision to have surgery without having cancer wasn't easy, but it seemed logical to me. My mother, aunt and grandmother have all died from breast or ovarian cancer, and I tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

Being BRCA positive means a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer is substantially elevated.

"Patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have 50%-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to approximately 60% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer," according to Karen Brown, director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

By comparison, the lifetime risk of breast cancer for the general population is 13% and 1.7% for ovarian cancer.

Click here to read the complete story from CNN.com.


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