A magnifying glass focussing on a section of a DNA strand. Very high resolution 3D render.
If you had a gene that increased your risk of getting an aggressive cancer, would you want to know? Genetic testing now makes that possible. And as Serese Cole tells us , while it can be an emotional journey - it's one more women are willing to take.
Brandi Preston was just 14-years-old when she lost her mom to breast cancer. Her mother had the gene mutation BRCA. Her grandmother carried it, too.
"It was kind of like - it's a ticking time bomb. You're just waiting for it to come to you," explained Preston.
Instead of waiting, Brandi met with a Genetic Testing Counselor to see if she had the gene. Her DNA was collected by a simple mouthwash sample and in less than two weeks the results were in.
"I kind of knew what my result was going to be - and she was like, 'your positive'," said Preston.
Twilla Westercamp, "If somebody inherits that - then they will not necessarily always get cancer, nor will they die from it, but they are at increased risk."
Serese Cole, "But the increased risk is a big one. Most women have a 10--12 percent risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. For people who carry the BRACA gene - the risk goes to 87-percent."
Algent Creighon Health's Certified Genetic Nurse Twilla Westercamp says there are options including enhanced and frequent screenings using MRIs, chemo prevention drugs and preventative surgeries.
"If my mom would have known, she would have been able to see doctors every 6 months - and they wouldn't have found it at stage 4 - they would have have found it at stage 1," said Preston.
Her mom and seven -month-old son Peyton are the motivation behind her plans to get a double mastectomy. The procedure will reduce her chance of getting breast cancer by up to 95 percent.
"If I can prevent it altogether - I'm going to try," she said.
Hoping the surgery will give her more precious time - with precious Peyton.
So who should consider this kind of genetic testing? If you or someone in your family was diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50, if you have multiple family members diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer or if someone in your family has breast and ovarian cancer. The test costs up to 3500 dollars, but most are covered by insurance.