‘In the Family’: Share Your Story

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The decision to undergo genetic testing is a very personal decision with the potential for some very powerful emotional repercussions, as we witness in Joanna Rudnick’s In the Family. Because their mother had survived ovarian cancer, Joanna and her sister understood that they might be at higher risk for developing cancer themselves. After her sister tested negative for the BRCA gene, Joanna realized that she should know whether she had the mutation herself.

When I found out that I carried the BRCA genetic mutation that drastically increases my odds of getting breast and ovarian cancer, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it. The thought of telling my closest friends made my stomach turn. So I hid the piece of paper that said “positive for a deleterious mutation” and did everything possible to forget that I was basically a ticking time bomb.

Eventually, Joanna decided to confront her own fears the best way she knows how: by asking questions and making a film. She shares her journey and her quest for knowledge with viewers with In the Family, and would like to hear your stories, too.

In the Family airs on most PBS stations on Wednesday, October 1 at 10 PM. (Schedules vary, so check your local listings.)
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with the BRCA gene mutation? How has your experience differed from Joanna and the women featured in the film? Share your stories with us here.

Catherine Jhee
Catherine Jhee
Catherine Jhee was formerly a producer with POV Interactive.
  • http://www.porterhouse.typepad.com Becca Porter

    FOREIGNID: 17043
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but I can’t wait. I am 27 years old. I found out I had a brca1 mutation a couple of years ago. I got it from my dad’s side. Basically every person in father’s family has died from or survived cancer, including: his parents, two of his three brothers (his other brother died young), 3 of his four sisters, and a few nieces.
    After my cousin got diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties, she got involved with the Creighton brca study. After she tested positive for brca1 she urged all of us to get tested. My Dad tested, hoping to be negative, in order to save his three daughters from having to even get tested. He was positive and so were all three of us. I feel lucky that we were all three married with two kids each. I can’t imagine how we would feel otherwise.
    My sisters and I have increased our screenings. We have all researched our surgery options. I personally have seriously looked into prophylactic mastectomy. I had basically decided to go through with it, when I encountered insurance problems regarding certain reconstructive options. I eventually got tired of trying to push it all though, and I am taking a break. Hopefully I am young enough that I will not regret it.
    Thank you for creating this documentary. The more information I have, the better I feel about my decisions.

  • Lorrie Centeno

    FOREIGNID: 17044
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was diagonised with breast cancer when I was 26. No one in my family had a history of breast cancer at a early age. I got a different breast cancer in the other breast at age 32. Then at age 60 my mother was diagonised. This got my attention so I wanted to talk to a genetic counselor. I decided to be tested at age 38 and discovered that I was braca positive then my mother was tested and it was confirmed that she was also positive. I had a hysteretomy right away but held off on having a prophylactic mastectomy.
    One month ago DCIS was discovered on a routine mammogram so I just had the surgery and at this time am recovering and in the process of reconstruction. My mother is going through chemotherapy at this time for her breast cancer that returned in her lung and is inoperable.
    I have not seen this film yet but I cried just watching the trailer. I have heard for so long that there is such a small amount of breast cancer that is heriditary. I am not so sure that is accurate or even if it is we should be doing much more and I salaute you for doing this film to bring awareness to the families. I have a younger sister that has not been tested, maybe after seeing this she will be convinced that this is what she needs to do.

  • mark quinsland

    FOREIGNID: 17045
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Last Tuesday, we buried our sister Ruth. Ruth bravely battled ovarian cancer for 6 years and my daughter played the piano at Ruth’s funeral service. I will encourage my daughter and my nieces to all have this genetic test performed. I wish that I could turn back the clock and give Ruth that option.

  • Leslie Baehre

    FOREIGNID: 17046
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I watched this program last night. I did not move the entire time. By the time it was over I was in tears. This was the most moving documentary I have ever watched. What have we as a country come to where the almighty dollar has more meaning than a human life. Some of the statistics shown throughout the program were almost unbelieveable. Our government should focus its energies on finding a way to provide affordable healthcare to all citizens with greater emphysis on prevention. If everyone could afford to see a doctor for a physical once a year maybe some of the problems could be fixed before they get out of control. To top it all off, the price of prescription medications is outrageous. No wonder some can’t afford to keep themselves healthy as they can not afford the medication to do so. My mom always told me “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” but this is a system that is really broke and it is up to each of us and our government to fix this problem before more people die. I think every politician in Washington D.C. should be forced to watch this program and then see if they still turn a blind eye to this national scandal.

  • Megan

    FOREIGNID: 17047
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I found out I carried the BRCA1 gene when I was 18. As soon as I was old enough, I decided I wanted to know. My grandmother fought breast cancer for 17 years, it wasn’t until she developed ovarian that her life ended. Watching my grandmother go through all the trials and tribulations of cancer I knew I did not want to go through it. My grandmother was one of many women who where first tested for these genes in the 90′s here in Canada. I am so thankful for her doing this, because of her being tested we have since found out that her son (my dad) and her daughter both carry the gene and so Do I. As soon as my Aunt was told she carried the gene she did lots of research and had all the preventative surgeries done. I am currently 23, now going for mammograms and mri’s every year and check ups every 6 months. I strongly believe knowing I carry this gene is empowering, because I could possibly have control over a terrible disease that can take my life. However, just like many other women out there I face the future decision of having all the preventive surgeries done, and having to start a family potentially earlier on. At 23 the doctors are already having me think about removing my breasts and starting a family in the next 7years so they can remove my ovaries. I do find it frightening to have to think about, but the way I look at it is I do not want to potentially go through what I watched my grandmother go through, I do not want to put myself through that, my family, even eventually my children. It is sad to see that it costs so much for all of you in the states to have this test done, all women with historical background should be entitled to having the test free of charge. It truly is a life altering gene. For all those young women out there who are in there twenties just as me, I’d really like to know what you are thinking about in regards to the surgeries and how having the gene has changed your life, especially finding out so young. Please email me at mthoma23@uwo.ca. I’d love to chat to women who are going through and facing the same things as me. Even if you have any questions for me. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone.

  • Rachel

    FOREIGNID: 17048
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have not seen the documentary yet because it won’t be showing until Sunday in my area, but I commend you for making it. I heard the short piece about it on Talk of the Nation yesterday. Brava! Because I haven’t seen it yet, I don’t know whether or not you address the issue of Fanconi anemia, so I wanted to bring it up here.
    I learned that my husband and I are BRCA2 carriers when our daughter was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a very serious disease with no cure at this time. There are about a dozen different genes that can cause this disease, but one of them is the BRCA2 gene (and, in fact, BRCA1 is another one). One must have 2 mutated copies of the BRCA2 gene (or BRCA1 gene) to have this form of Fanconi anemia. So, if you are a BRCA carrier and you intend to have children you should talk to a genetic counselor about having your partner tested as well. If you are both BRCA2 carriers (or both BRCA1 carriers) then each child you have has a 25% chance of having Fanconi anemia. I think this is very important for carriers to know about and much more needs to be done to bring awareness of issue to BRCA carriers.

  • Judy

    FOREIGNID: 17049
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just watched the show, I have cancer in my family My mother passed away from breast/uterine cancer 8years ago this month . I have been very diligent in my screenings annually. I have had a few lumps over the years and had them biopsied, thank god not positive. I had a mamo and an ultra sound in January with questionable results again. I was told to have an MRI, which I decided not to do becuase I cannot affort the copay, and also because it is in the area where I had a previous biopsy. I feel it is just scar tissue that is causing a false reading. I have recently asked my MD to write another script for a follow up ultrasound, I plan to have one and compare results from January. I am not sure what I will do if it comes out questionable again. I guess I will have to put the MRI cost on a credit card. I have insurance and still cannot afford preventative screenings. This is so wrong , my mother passed away,she skpped on her follow up testing due to her not having affordable insurance . I am affraid I will be following in her footsteps. When will the government see the Insurance companies are in it for money not for the humanity and compasion of helping those in a health crisis.

  • Julie

    FOREIGNID: 17050
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My story is a little different, we start in January of 2008, my oldest sister (50) was diagnosed with DCIS. We were all stunned, as far as we knew there was no breast cancer on either side of our family. My dad was an only child and he did have a aunt that died of ovarian cancer, so my sister was encouraged to do genetic testing, she had her blood drawn and sent to the lab. One day she got a call from the lab saying that her insurance would not cover the test, her insurance company and only one other will not cover this test, so she declined , she could not afford the $3000.00 price tag of the test. Fast forward to July of 2008, my second sister (43) was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, we were all devastated by the news. How could this be, we had all worried about heart problems and stroke, but breast and ovarian cancer, the thought never crossed our minds. Sister #2 had the testing done, the two week wait was agonizing, she was positive for BRCA1. So sister #1 and I (41) had the test done, another agonizing two weeks, the results are in, we are all positive and apparently of Jewish decent( of which we had no inclination). I am happy for my sisters, because at least they know that it is not something that they did or did not do to get cancer, but that its all in the family. My sisters are doing well, sister #2 going through chemo treatments, with another 12 weeks added on because she is gene positive, but I have no doubt that she will be a survivor. We have all been blessed with our children before this whole thing was even a part of our lives, I thank god for that and I can’t imagine having to struggle with the decision that Johanna has to make. It makes me so angry that the insurance company would not pay for the original test, had they, would my sister have been spared chemotherapy, would they have been able to catch it in an earlier stage? We can only imagine that they would have. I have decided to go ahead with the prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy and I will also be having my ovaries removed, I will be seeing the breast surgeon next week, hopefully all goes well, I am scared though. I just can’t see at my age waiting and wondering everyday if this little bump that I think I feel is cancer. I what to thank you for making the film, it was strangely comforting to know that there are other families struggling with the same issue. God bless every family dealing with this mutation and I pray for all of us everyday.

  • Lisa

    FOREIGNID: 17051
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was changing channels and caught the last 15 minutes of the documentary. I stopped when I heard BRCA. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer last year, The Doctor’s wanted to do the BRCA test on me and my girls, but because I didn’t have insurance I couldn’t afford the testing. I am 37 years old, I went through my surgery, chemo and now almost done with radiation. I am the first in my family to have any type of cancer. As a mother of 2 girls who are teenagers, I worry constantly, if I passed this gene on to them. To hear that this gene was patened just made me feel like it’s an opportunity to make money and not make it affordable to anyone who could take this information and make decisions on how they will handle it if they were positive for the gene mutation. There is so many women out there that when they find a lump they just turn a blind eye to it and just assume it may be a cyst or just chalk it up to nothing. If they had the BRCA and if it were positive then they may take it more serious to do the self examinations or get the mammograms done. There also is issues as for people who don’t have insurance and just don’t want to go for the testings because they can not afford it. That was my case, I found the lump and my friend called all the places that were giving free mammograms, which happened to be our Free Clinic in town. Thank god for the Susan B Komen foundation for giving them the grant to help me go through my ordeal. Hoping one day that the BRCA will be more affordable for everyone, this documentary was such an important issue and hope it is replayed

  • Andrea

    FOREIGNID: 17052
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I wanted to say that I loved your film, cried thoughout the whole thing. I am 31yrs old and have no family history of cancer that I know of. My mother did have some cysts removed from her ovaries a few years ago though. Anyway, june 5th 2008 I had an abortion, since then I have been experiencing bleeding/spoting in between periods, and after sex, lower abdominal pain and back pain, bloated, and what feels like a lump/mass in my lower abdomin, I dont have insurance or the money to go get this checked out, I have never had any of these symptoms before and feel like its getting worse, I wondered if you knew of any state programs or organizations that could help me out? Thanks again for making this film, im going to tell everyone I know about it. Best wishes to you.

  • Donna

    FOREIGNID: 17053
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I waited for months to see this documentary on PBS last night and now I’m so overwhelmed with emotion I can hardly talk about it.
    I carry the BRCA 1 mutation, as do both of my sisters, and we are all survivors. We have all had breast cancers and one sister, ovarian. We have had our grandmothers, aunts and other relatives die young with cancers but I still had to fight and appeal the insurance company to be the first to test for a mutation. Like all women “in the family”, my story could be pages long but this is what I want to tell Joanna: Thank you for creating this documentary at such great personal cost and know that it will save lives and change the world for the better.
    My three daughters, one who has already had thyroid cancer, do not receive adequate screening and are told by their own GYNs that they are too young to start although they will be 26, 28 and 30 this month. My sister had to push to get a prophylactic oophorectomy after she had her breast cancer and positive gene test, and they found her silent, lurking stage II ovarian cancer ONLY because she did.
    My hope is that this film will turn the tide of ignorance, stigma and fear associated with this issue and will educate and support not only the women making such impossibly difficult decisions, but the health care providers who are supposed to be helping them navigate through them. We must also make health care and the necessary testing available and affordable to all women or the knowledge will do little to save life.

  • Carey

    FOREIGNID: 17054
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Joanna, Please know that by your courageous work you have saved lives. SAVED LIVES. By your powerful film drawing attention to this topic, thousands of women, men, families, and medical providers will become aware and educated regarding the tragic realities and painful choices surrounding familial breast and ovarian cancers. Educated and empowered, individuals will make life-saving choices regarding surveillence and prevention. Access to these choices will increase. In addition, research will be demanded and pursued to give us better choices. All because of your film. We can see throughout your film that it was an excrutiatingly painful and difficult project. Yet you believed in its importance and did it anyway. Your courage and dedication are amazing. You should be very, very proud of your accomplishment.
    My family and I (4 BrCa-1 women, 5 children age 8 and under) thank you.

  • Maria C.

    FOREIGNID: 17055
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just finished watching “In the Family” online. Thank you so much for making this film. I am a 25 year old woman from Chicago and currently living in Boston. Last year I was encouraged to get the test by my primary care doctor after she become aware of the number of woman in my family who have had/have breast or ovarian cancers. My mom was the first to be tested and told she had the BRCA1 gene mutation. I was next to find out that I too had the gene. My mother had breast cancer at 36 and survived. My aunt and grandmother have since died of cancer. Another aunt is currently in her third round of chemo. As well as another generation removed being littered with breast/ovarian cancer. For my family finding out about the gene has been helpful. I am choosing to do surveillance for now until after I have children. My mother is in the process of meeting with a doctor to have her ovaries removed. I sometimes worry about myself but I feel like I have time until my risk is more significant. It is more so my mother I worry about because she still has a risk with her ovaries.
    The film brought light to a relatively untouched group of affected people that have been diagnosed with this gene. As I watched I could parallel my own story onto the woman profiled and it helped me to feel less alone but also very sad. We know what gene is causing so much of this cancer yet the preventative measures to take action are not there. It is like the cart has to catch up to the horse. Also, the cost of the Myriad test is especially disheartening to me. I was lucky and my mother’s insurance covered the $3000 price of the test and I was required to pay significantly less because the specific gene had been identified so the test was narrowed to that alone. If the test had only been available for $3000 out of pocket I may have been deterred.
    Thank you again for making this film.

  • Kathryn

    FOREIGNID: 17056
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just wanted to say that the film was great and it gave me more information that I wanted to know. My family carries the BRCA1 gene on my fathers side. He passed away 2 years ago and it happened so randomly that I have decided to get the gene test done. I am only 19 and am lucky enough to have insuance that will pay for the test. I have to wait 3 weeks until the test comes back and I am very nervous. Seeing the film has made me think about what I would do with the surgeries and made me realize the strain that this causes with familes. If I have the gene, I plan on having children earliier and also getting the surgeries. I thank you very much for making this film and also like many others, believe that you have saved many women and men’s lives.

  • Donna

    FOREIGNID: 17057
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Joanna,
    I already wrote yesterday but I had to tell you this! My youngest daughter called me last night and she had watched “In The Family”. Knowing that her two sisters have not seen it yet, she told me I need to get a copy of the film so that we can open a bottle of wine, grab a box of Kleenex and all watch it together as soon as possible. She wants to influence her sisters to go in together for the testing like the three sisters in the film did. You convinced her that there is no running from this and because they are now old enough to be in the danger zone it’s time to face it and protect themselves, whatever it takes.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sometimes the strong love and fear makes it too hard for families to even talk about this…….. I think you were God-sent to break down these barriers.

  • Alicia

    FOREIGNID: 17058
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    After reading others comments I felt obligated to help shed some light on the testing costs and a loop hole I found. My mother and her sister both died in their mid thirties from breast cancer. When my sister was also diagnosed her doctor recommended she have the test done. It came back positive. I too wanted the test done but did not want to disclose to my insurance provider, therefore unable to pay for the $3000 test. During my sisters genetic counseling it came up that I wanted to have the test done but didn’t want insurance to know and also couldn’t pay the $3,000 and they told her that they could do mine for $300 since they had her test results and knew “where to look” for the mutation. Please, if you have a sibling that has tested positive, go to /his/her testing facility and ask if they would do it for less since they know where to look. I do not llive in the same state as my sister but planned to have the test done while there visiting.

  • Elisabeth Boas

    FOREIGNID: 17059
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I’m sorry my post of last night was not posted, I had trouble postibg, sent an email to the site suggested…but helas!
    My comment was: I salute Joanna Rudnick for this very brave and informative film she made. My suggestion was that she and others check out graviola.com as a very important learning tool to her and others in her position as well as cancer-patients. I have no financial or other interest in this site. It is just an incredibly important learning tool to visit.
    Bravo, Rudnick!

  • Helen

    FOREIGNID: 17060
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a 21 year survivor of advanced ovarian cancer. My brother and I both have the BRCA2 mutation. We inheritied the mutation from our father who passed away from pancreatic cancer. A first cousin on my dad’s side was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer 26 years ago. My brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago. We are all well. My older son does not have the mutation. My younter son has not been tested. We have told him to start getting tested for prostate cancer with the PSA test when he is 40 rather than 50 if he does not get tested for the BRCA mutation.
    Since I found out I have the mutation I have been on oral medication to reduce my risk of breast cancer. I have regular screenings for breast cancer with breast MRIs and ultrasounds in addition to mammograms. I do believe knowledge is power.
    In The Family was a powerful story that enlightened me to the pressure put on single women who have the mutation and want to have children.

  • Evelyn

    FOREIGNID: 17061
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    In Canada, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 58 in 1992, my mother had died of breast cancer in 1973, She was 58 years old, no testing was available. When it was discovered that I had breast cancer I was askied if I wanted Genentic testing for the rogue gene. I agreed. I do not have the gene, but it seems to be routine here in Toronto at the PMH. Why is it such an expensive big deal in the US. As far as I know any woman who has a history is immediately asked if they want the genetic testing at no cost to them.

  • Claudia Gilmore

    FOREIGNID: 17062
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I cannot thank you enough for your courageous undertaking in producing this film!
    I am 21-years-old female, a senior at Georgetown University, and carrier of the BRCA1 mutation.
    I received the results from the genetics test a few weeks ago at the start of my senior year of college. My grandmother battled breast cancer and then succumbed to ovarian cancer just over a year ago. Before she passed, she discovered she had the mutation. In November, my father discovered that he inherited the mutation from my grandmother, and I, in turn, inherited BRCA1 from my dad.
    My parents and extended family have been more than supportive, and that, in and of itself, is an understatement. But this has certainly been big news to digest!
    My friends, however, do not entirely understand the circumstances for me. Your film has helped me reach out to my colleagues, classmates, and professors to help spread word of this new technology and better grasp the whole scope of BRCA1 and its impact on men and women’s lives.
    Once again, I can’t thank you enough for your drive and initiative. You’re doing a real service to millions of women (and men, like my dad!), keep up the tremendous work :)
    Best, Claudia Gilmore

  • Margaret Vasquez

    FOREIGNID: 17063
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just wanted to thank you for just an amazing film! I just finished it complete with the pile of tissues next to me. I am home from work recovering from my bilateral mastecomy and reconstruction after a diagnosis of DCIS at 33 years old. I just want to share my personal story as it highlights something slightly different. I lost my dad to breast cancer and his original diagnosis would have be pre-menopausal if he were female. When it became available my two sisters and I tested negative for the BRCA 1 and 2. Then my oldest sister was diagnosed, two years ago at 43 (she’s doing great!). Since breast cancer is so rare in men they are treating us like there is some genetic link. So let’s not forget that men can be carriers of breast cancer mutations and they can also get it as well. I was diagnosed this summer at 33, had the mastectomies and now am questioning my ovaries. I am beyond fortunate to have a wonderful husband and 2 year old son but we were hoping for another… Anyway, I thank you again for this wonderful film, it was very helpful and cathartic for me. And thanks for letting me ramble on. I wish you the best with your journey.
    Margie Loeper Vasquez

  • Cindy Holmes

    FOREIGNID: 17064
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    IThank you, Joanna, for a wonderful film. I could not put into words what the legacy of a BRCA1 mutation was all about, to my family and friends.
    My father carried the mutation. until i was diagnosed at age 44, cancer did not run in my family. my Dad was an only child, and we can go back about 3 generations on his father’s family tree, and never encounter a female who lived beyond age 35.
    I bought my daugher a copy of your documentary, and she has shown it to some of her closest friends, and her Aunt and Uncle on her Dad’s side of the family.
    They were all riveted by the film. my daughter will get tested at age 25. she is 23 now. she feels that “In the Family” has greatly added to her support system, and explined so poignantly what the emotional and physical tolls can be.
    Thank you again!

  • Dallas Southard

    FOREIGNID: 17065
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have not yet seen “In the Family”, but I am looking forward to it. I come from a family where in my Mothers generation breast cancer was 100%, her and her 7 sisters all had breast cancer. All have passed away and there was no one to test to try to locate a specific mutated gene. I was tested for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 but nothing was located. With this history it was an easy decision for me and 3 years ago, I had a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction.
    I remember waking from a 10 hour surgery feeling a calm and with a peaceful feeling about me. The worry of when the cancer will come and if I will find it in time was removed from my life and I could now move on to actually living. I do not regret the choice I made one iota. And, I must say that I have the best looking boobs in the world!

  • Kenneth

    FOREIGNID: 17066
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have enjoyed POV for many years and remember many programs from a long time back. I travel and live in China. I have toured the Three Gorges Dam and Yangtze River. I found, “Up the Yangtze” excellent. It put the viewer in the sandals of the river people. Excellent story telling and camera work. Ken

  • Ruth

    FOREIGNID: 17067
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    With all due respect to the noble subject “In the Family” addresses, I’m really surprised the film passed muster with POV’s review board. The docs I’ve seen thus far have moved me or educated me or had me thinking about them for days on end. This one had me fast forwarding through most of it.

  • Kia Riddick-Taylor

    FOREIGNID: 17068
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Now that I’m done crying, I just wanted to let you know how incredibly inspiring and motivating your movie was. I am African-American and was diagnosed last year at the age of 33 with Ovarian Cancer. I was so happy to see yuour segment on African-Amreican’s because we as a community don’t talk about these issues enough and doctor’s are not doing their best at keeping us informed. I thank you for that.
    Today was one of those tough day’s, a “why me”, “why anyone” kind of day and being a cancer survivor I also agree with the genetic doctor when she said that the way we deal with life is very similar to the way you’ll deal knowing that your positive for the gene mutation. I call it “limbo”, you know you can’t go backwards yet you don’t know how to move forward. All I can say is take it day by day and allow yourself those moments to grieve…wishing you many blessings!!
    Thanks again for sharing your story!!

  • Stacey

    FOREIGNID: 17069
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just watched the film online and I can really relate to what Joanna went through. I am a 34 year old mother of 3 and I am scheduled to have a prophylactic mastectomy w/ reconstruction and hysterectomy this November. I did not test positive for the BRCA genes. But, I feel that testing negative gives a false hope that you will not get cancer. Look at all of the women who have tested negative and still have received a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis.
    My mother had breast cancer at the age of 37, and at age 52 it came back and the she died at age 54. My grandmother and nine of my aunts have had breast cancer and one died from Ovarian cancer at a very young age. so, I have a strong family history of the disesase. So, I assumed I would test positive, Well my test is negative,but inconclusive because I have no family members that they could compare results with. So, I still have a 50/50 shot of getting it.
    I decided to have the surgeries because, like Joanna, I live in fear of the diagnosis.I watched my grandmother and mother die from this disease and I have no intention of having my kids see what I did.
    I have to get mammograms, ultrasounds and MRI’s every six months. I feel like I am waiting for the diagnosis. Also, by having all of the screening done, I’m not reducing my risk of having cancer. I’m waiting for it to be detected. So, I would still have to deal with diagnosis and treatment, and I think that I would regret not doing anything when I had the chance to not get it at all. Look at how the women with cancer in the film said that if they could have done it before they got cancer they would have. So, I feel confident in my decision, I think that once I have it done I will be free from this fear.

  • Suzanne

    FOREIGNID: 17070
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just finished watching this touching story and would like to share my own personal story on the subject. My Mother had a partial mastectomy in her earlier 40′s along with radiation. She had no reoccurrences until 20 years later with the cancer hiding in the scar tissue. At that time she had a total mastectomy with reconstruction. The following year she had it in the other breast and again under went radical surgery. The following year she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She went through a successful surgery and 1 chemo treatment. A few days later I found her dead in her bed. Her and I discussed the gene test and she was scheduled the following week to take it to see if she was carrying the gene that could possibly pass to me. Of course that never took place and my world was turned upside down with the loss of my loving mother. At the same time my step-sister was dying from breast cancer that spread to her brain and she lost the fight at 50 a few months later. Later I decided to take the BRCA test myself and had concerns for my teenage daughter. I was so relieved to have a negative result and felt we should be safe from this horrible disease. To my dismay, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer a few months after the test. I am grateful that my mother insisted that I had mammogram’s annually since I was in my 20′s because of her history. Since I was negative with carrying the gene, I can only hope for a cancer free life for my daughter. I too, will drill her yearly to take that mammogram. I am grateful I had to never face that positive outcome and be forced to make a decision before the actual occurrence like Joanna is facing. Strangely my body chose it for me.

  • Vickie

    FOREIGNID: 17071
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a 34yr old women with the brca1 gene. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 28 and now at 34 am going through a double masectomy. It for me was a easy decision considering everything my aunt and grandmother went through. I am not saying that the process is eay or the feeling of not being a women anymore isn’t hard. I do feel I did do the right thing. If it wasn’t for the support of my boyfriend and aunt I don’t think it would have been a easy choice. At this time I am going through recontructive surgery and not feeling so well. What keeps me going and fighting is that I now know my risks are so much lowere and I will be able to be here for my two very beautiful children. I also face day to day the thought of passing this to my children and everything they may have to deal with later on in life. It’s scary!