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Family History of Cancer Prompts Woman To Undergo Double Mastectomy

"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.."

That is what actress Angelina Jolie wrote in op-ed in the New York Times Tuesday where she announced she had undergone a double mastectomy.

Jolie wrote she made the decision because she lost her mother to cancer and learned she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which increases the risk of breast cancer.

Greene resident and bridal boutique business owner Shelly Howell  hasn't been tested for the gene. A history of cancer in her immediate family prompted her to get a double mastectomy in October.

"I knew what we were going through as a family and having to see your family members go through shaving your head and going through chemotherapy, it was just heart-wrenching," said Howell.

Howell's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and her sister died from this disease in January.

Since her mom's diagnosis, Howell has dedicated her life to raising awareness of the disease and encouraging woman to get annual screenings.

"We started doing some local fundraising through my business and then my girlfriend did the Susan G. Komen walk.  So we walked kast year in Washington D.C. and this year we'll be walking in Atlanta," said Howell.

Dr. Niru Anne says she's scene an increase in double mastectomies over the years as women are diagnosed younger with the disease.

"A woman who's diagnosed in their thirties and forties has another sixty to seventy years to live.  The longer a person lives the more likely they'll have a second cancer in the same or opposite breast," said Dr. Anne, Breast Surgeon at Lourdes Hospital.

Dr. Anne says 10% of cancer is inherited. She hopes Jolie's article inspires those with a family history to get tested and get screened for the disease.

Howell says her surgery reduced her risk of cancer by 90% .  She says she now feels relief and can focus on bringing awareness to the importance of early detection and preventative measures.

"Being a women's based business.  We deal with women on a daily basis that have breast cancer or have a family member that passed away of breast cancer and they're nervous of going to even get a mammogram we can reassure them that its okay," said Howell.

**Ali Warner Fox 40 HD News**


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