Many women in the Bay area can identify with Angelina Jolie's New York Times editorial about choosing to have a double mastectomy surgery. Lutz mother Terri Comeau says cancer isn't just a disease, it's a monster that keeps attacking her family.
"My mom had breast cancer when she was 22. She's a survivor. My aunt passed away when she was 38, and my grandmother right now is battling breast cancer. She's 90," Comeau said Tuesday.
Terri is just 29. Last April, she decided to face her fear. She was tested for the BRCA-1 mutation, a gene that sharply increases a woman's risk to develop breast or ovarian cancer.
The results changed her life.
"Immediately, my whole world came crashing down. I have a 3-year-old son, and automatically I thought, 'Oh my gosh. I'm going to get breast cancer," she said.
Doctors told her she had choices, but she's the first to admit that hers didn't come easily.
"Having the mastectomy was the biggest decision of my life," Comeau said.
Terri had both breasts removed earlier this year. She completed reconstructive surgery just last week.
"I feel like I can finally live my life, enjoy my son, enjoy my family without that terrible disease lurking in my thoughts every day," she said Tuesday.
Her risk of developing breast cancer before the surgery was 87 percent. Now, it's just two percent
She believes Angelina Jolie's words will help empower women across the world to get tested.
"I feel better than ever. I don't feel less like a woman. I feel stronger as a woman that I was able to make that decision to have both of my breasts removed to save my life, to make sure that I'm around for my son for a long time," she said.
Comeau heads a support group for local women battling breast cancer or those with the BRCA gene, called FORCE. For more information, visit www.facingourrisk.org/tampabay
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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