A local woman, who also happens to be one of those still displaced by the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire, underwent drastic surgery Wednesday as a preventative measure against cancer.
She tested positive for a gene linked to breast and ovarian cancers, and decided to have those body parts removed before any problems developed.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the mutation of the BRCA gene has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Marjorie Noleen, 34, tested positive, indicating a higher risk for developing those cancers later in her life.
“I want to live, and I don’t want to deal with this,” she said.
With the information about her genes and family history, Noleen made the life-changing decision to go under the knife. She underwent a double mastectomy and hysterectomy Wednesday.
“The chances are so high, why would I take the risk?” she said one day before the surgery. “Some of them are upwards of 84 percent that I will get it.”
Noleen is a mother of two and says the surgery was not an easy choice. She and her family decided to go through with it after genetic counseling and meetings with several medical experts, including oncologists.
She is independently insured, and the insurance did decline to pay for the surgery. She is appealing that decision, but still went forward with the four-hour operation.
Noleen's recovery will take about three weeks, but she has a positive attitude and lots of support.
“It can’t be a weakness,” she said. “It has to be a strength. Have to make it a strength.”
Of course, family history and genetic predisposition are not the only factors to be considered by patients and their doctors. The best advice is for each patient to work with their doctors to determine how to minimize individual risks.
Noleen and her family are also displaced from their home because of smoke damage from the Waldo Canyon fire. They are told it will be months before they can return home.
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