Two sisters who tested positive for a mutation of the BRCA2 gene, which sharply increases the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer, hope actress Angelina Jolie's announcement that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy helps save lives.
Jolie made the announcement in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she had the procedure after learning she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene.
"It won't be taboo anymore, which is the best thing that could ever happen," said Aimee Kasimow (pictured in white shirt), who was 37 years old when she tested positive.
"I knew I had to take care of this when I tested positive because I was going to get breast cancer," added Kasimow. "My mother, my grandmother, my cousin, and my two aunts all had breast cancer and they all tested positive for BRCA2."
Kasimow underwent a double mastectomy in 2007. A stay-at-home mother, her children were 8 and 3 years old at the time.
"I knew I was going to be alive to see my children grow up and they are my world," she said.
Kasimow's sister Robyn Markson (pictured in green/white shirt) took a different path.
"My oncologist 100 percent told me, 'Take off your breasts,'" she said.
At 31, Markson tested positive for BRCA2 but decided to wait. Four years later, the mother of two boys battled stage 3 breast cancer.
"It just got me before I got it," she said.
"If you inherit an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, you will have a lifetime 80 to 90-percent chance of developing breast cancer," said Elisa Krill-Jackson, Kasimow's oncologist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
For more information, contact FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) a non-profit organization that advocates, provides research, information and support for those who carry the BRCA genetic mutation or are high risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer. Website: www.facingourrisk.org.