Quad City Women Discuss Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Quad City Women Discuss Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer


Actress Angelina Jolie announced Tuesday that she underwent a double mastectomy, after genetic testing showed she was at high risk for breast cancer. Local breast cancer survivors are applauding Jolie's decision.

They say it puts the spotlight on genetic testing that can detect some forms of the disease.

"Having an older sister die of it, my first thought was, "Am I going to die of this too?" says Breast Cancer Survivor Lesley Creger.

Creger was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995.

"It was devastating," Creger adds, "The minute you hear that diagnosis it's like somebody has kicked you in the stomach."

Creger went into remission, but her battle wasn't over. She was diagnosed with a different form of breast cancer in 2000.

"I certainly didn't want it rearing its ugly head with the my daughter and grand-daughter," says Creger.

So, Creger decided to undergo genetic testing to see if she had the BRCA gene. Creger was able to take the test since she has a family history and has had breast cancer multiple times.

"It was a very simple blood test and I had the results back in 2 weeks," says Creger.

The results were negative. Since the BRCA gene has to be passed from parent to child, her children are not carriers.

Cyndi Ashmun also took the genetic test, but her results came back positive.

"For me it was that piece of the puzzle that made sense when nothing else did," says Ashmun.

Ashmun was diagnosed and beat breast cancer 3 times. Her first bout with the disease was when she was only 28 years old.

"I had it again when I was 35 and when I was 41," Ashmun adds, "It wasn't a reoccurrence, they were all 3 separate cases of breast cancer."

Making the decision to get tested was easy for Ashmun. She has a long family history, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age and family members also had BRCA cancers, such as prostate cancer. Ashmun also has 2 daughters.

"Knowing the statistics that if you carry the gene and you've got a 50% probability of passing the gene ,it had major implications for my daughters," adds Ashmun.

Ashmun and Creger are spreading awareness about breast cancer and genetic testing. Ashmun works with Susan G. Komen for the cure. Creger fits breast cancer survivors with special bras at "Always A Woman". Both say taking the genetic test is saving lives, because it helps families find out if they're at risk.

BRCA is also an indicator for not only breast cancer, but also ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers. Genetic testing for BRCA costs between $3000 and $4000. Insurance covers some of the cost if you have a predisposition to BRCA cancers.