When Lisa Schlager took part in a research study in 1999, she never expected to get some news that would change her life forever. In the course of the study, Schlager tested positive for a BRCA gene mutation, an abnormality known to increase greatly the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. A women with a BRCA mutation is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer and 10 to 30 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who don’t have a mutation, according to the National Cancer Institute.
She didn’t know much about the breast cancer gene at the time. But when she discussed the results with her doctor, she learned how serious it was. Schlager, now 43, refused for several years to have a mastectomy and went on with her life. She had two children and started her career in marketing communications.
But after some abnormalities were found during routine breast-cancer screening, she started to worry not about if she would get cancer, but when she would get it. She finally decided in 2007 to go along with the medical recommendation that women who have the BRCA mutation and are older than 35 who are done bearing children have their ovaries removed.
Being in her situation can be hard. Who wants to have their breasts removed right? Even if it is to avoid cancer, I don’t think anyone can give a straight answer right away. There will always be some thought that comes first before making a decision. I hope I won’t get to that situation.