Memphis Mom Shares Impact Of Genetic Testing

(Memphis) A Memphis mother of two says her journey to fight breast cancer began with another cancer.

“Turns out it was ovarian cancer and it had spread to my lymph nodes, so it was stage four ovarian cancer,” said Barb Cafferty.

While fighting ovarian cancer, Barb’s doctor recommended she see a genetics counselor.

Barb’s two children are adopted, so she didn’t understand why.

“They said well you have four sisters, so it would probably be good to know. Plus you could also have the gene. If you have the gene you’re more susceptible to stomach cancer and breast cancer,” said Barb.

She tested positive for the gene mutation and so did two of her sisters.

The test results were the reason Barb decided to get a double mastectomy.

Her sisters opted for close monitoring.

“It came back and it said I had the BRCA one gene. I went to my oncologist, who set me up with a breast doctor who told me I had a 98 percent chance of having breast cancer,” Barb.

Barb is sharing her story like a Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie did almost six months ago.

Jolie opted to have a double mastectomy because she also has the BRCA one gene.

Once Jolie went public with her decision, doctors thought the numbers of women wanting to get tested would increase.

And some say the number has grown.

“I have noticed that after Angelia Jolie’s story people are more willing to talk about their risk and talk about potentially going to see a genetic counselor and finding out what their risk for having on of those gene mutations is,” said breast surgeon Dr. Alyssa Throckmorton.

“The reality is most people are at very low risk for having one of those gene mutations but I am finding that people are at least more open and willing to consider it as compared to before,” added Throckmorton.

Barb hopes stories like hers and Jolie’s will increase curiosity about genetic testing.

“Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your kids. Do it for your husband.  Do it for your friends because they all want you around,” added Barb.

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