Local mom says quick, easy test gives you cancer-related answers

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Kelly Nelson likes to help people.

"You meet all kinds of people and you hear a lot of stories," she said.

As an echo tech at CHI St. Joseph Health College Station Hospital, she performs heart ultrasounds on people trying to get important health information. When she needed answers for herself, she went upstairs to the Breast Diagnostic Center.

"We have a lot of cancer in my family: my mom, my cousin, my aunt. My sister died in February and my father passed away two weeks ago and he had cancer. So just the strong family history, I just wanted to know," said Nelson.

That's why this summer, in addition to her annual mammogram, she took a test to find out if she has a cancer gene.

"I had a strong feeling that I did but there was still a glimmer of hope that I would be negative," she said.

Three weeks later Nelson's doctor called and confirmed her fear that she will likely get breast cancer one day.

"It's still really scary cause there's an 85% chance that I will get it. It's just at what age or when? I don't know," said Nelson.

Now the recently engaged mother of two is weighing treatment options: get a double mastectomy or monitor the threat with an MRI and mammogram every six months.

"There's just so many factors cause I'm a mother and I work full time. Do I want to take off work to do this? There's just so many questions that I don't know what the answer is right now," she said.

While she decides what's next, she is encouraging other women to take the same BRCA gene test she did.

"It's not even a blood test. They give you this little plastic container and you just fill it to the line with your saliva. Then they dump this little solution in and they shake it up and they mail it off to the company," she said.

Nelson says the process takes minutes and while it can be scary, it can provide some vital information.

"It makes you feel like you have some kind of control over your life and what you want to do about it," she said.

Kelly also had her older daughter take the BRCA gene test shortly after she did. They were both relieved when her results came back negative.