Double Mastectomy Discussion and Debate

Lynchburg, VA - A shocking revelation Tuesday from actress Angelina Jolie. She announced that she has undergone a double mastectomy, in the hopes of preventing cancer.

In an Op-Ed published in the New York Times, Jolie reveals she carries the BRCA-1 gene that put her at an 87% risk of developing breast cancer.

Jolie writes, "The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy."

A double mastectomy is the removal of nearly all the breast tissue on both sides of the body. Several men and women undergo this procedure every year to prevent cancer from forming in the body.

"It completely blew my world apart. I just wasn't expecting it," said Sami Dail Gilley.

Back in October, Sami Dail Gilley, 35, became a new mother. Like many women who breastfeed, she developed what she thought was inflammation in her breast. It wasn't.

"The doctor came in and she said, 'This isn't mastitis and I need to do a needle biopsy today," said Gilley.

She found out she had small cell cancer. In the past seven months, she has had two surgeries, chemo, and is now undergoing radiation. She is now in the testing phase to see if genes are to blame for her cancer.

"If it came down that I had something genetically, absolutely I would have my breasts removed," said Gilley.

She will find out in a few months when she gets the results from her BRCA test. Gilley thanks God she got pregnant when she did revealing her cancer.

"God's blessed me. Because if I didn't have my babies, I probably would have never have gone to the doctor," said Gilley.

Phyllis Everett monitors Gilley's genetic testing. She supports getting double mastectomies, when needed.

"They're able to reduce their risk of cancer by about 90%," said Everett.

She says women should consider all risk factors first.

Piedmont Community Health Plan insurance has seen an increase in women going through the procedure for preventative measures.

"The genetic testing has become a lot more popular," said Piedmont Community Health Plan Marketing and Communications Director, Cheryl Midkiff.

Insurance will cover the costs if a person meets certain requirements. Gilley is covered and fighting hard. She says this little bump in the road will not define her.

"I want to raise my children. I want to grow old with my children and my husband and I am!" Exclaimed Gilley.

Many issues need to be considered such as background, risk factors and family history.

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