Friday, May 31, 2013
Medical Reports: Surgery Struggle
After secretly undergoing a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, Angelina Jolie's fight to lower her risk of getting cancer isn't over yet. Jolie says she will also remove her ovaries. 7's Robbin Simmons talked to a local woman who has gone through this same surgery struggle.
Judith Foster: "I thought the surgery was going to change me. And I didn't want that."
The 42-year-old made the tough decision to have her ovaries removed even though she does not have ovarian cancer. It was a preventative move to avoid getting cancer in the future.
Judith Foster: "Ovarian cancer is a bad one. It's a difficult one to detect."
Even though Judith has a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, she always thought she would be the lucky one to escape cancer.
Judith Foster: "My grandmother died of cancer. My mother had cancer twice, but recovered, so I thought I'm going to be the generation who doesn't have anything."
Judith took a blood test to see if she has the BRCA gene mutation associated with a high risk of cancer. A call from her doctor revealed she could not hide from her family genes.
Judith Foster: "She said I have the mutation that makes me 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer, 40 percent chance of having ovarian cancer."
Judith's doctor advised her to not only remove her breasts but also her ovaries.
Dr. Elisa KrillL "We also recommend women take out their ovaries when they finish having children or by age 40 when the risk of ovarian cancer goes up."
At first, Judith fought it.
Judith Foster: "I don't understand why I have to do this drastic thing, when I am not sick?"
She finally agreed to have both her breasts removed.
Judith Foster: "The breast surgery was the easy one for me."
But for the past three years, Judith struggled with the thought of removing her ovaries.
Judith Foster: "I thought if you take my ovaries away, then I'm not a woman anymore."
Her biggest fear was being thrown into menopause.
Judith Foster: "I was afraid of the hot flashes, the night sweats, the mood swings."
In the end two small things led her to a big decision, her two beautiful children
Judith Foster: "They are so young and they are so innocent. I have this ticking bomb in my body and it's going to explode. Is it going to explode when they are eight or nine? Or when they are 40 or 50? I just couldn't risk it."
Judith had her ovaries removed a few weeks ago and even though she feels like she has lost a part of herself, she takes comfort in knowing her kids won't lose their mother to breast or ovarian cancer.
Judith Foster: "I want to see what they become. I have to be here for that."
Judith says she dreads the day when she will have to talk with her daughter about getting the genetic testing. She also wants to let women know that most insurance companies cover the genetic testing.