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Get Pink: Metro woman at high risk for breast cancer chooses double mastectomy

KOKH

Christina Chickoraske of Oklahoma City has a family history of breast cancer.

"Four generations of women on my maternal side have had breast cancer,” Chickoraske said. “So I knew, even as a high schooler, that breast cancer was going to be my reality."

That is why she came to the INTEGRIS Breast Surgery center and Dr. Denise Rable.

Rable's office is able to give you a genetic test to determine what your chances are to get cancer later in life. Chickoraske tested positive for a mutation that showed an increased risk of cancer. She said it’s a test she knew she needed to have done.

"It wasn't if I wanted to have that information, but how I used it as a tool in my toolbox once I had it," Chickoraske said.

The doctors went over the results with her and what her options were. They decided based on her risk to be diagnosed with breast cancer, she should have a double mastectomy as soon as possible.

"Having that clarity and having that little bit less stress in life where you don't realize how underlying that burden is until it's gone,” Chickoraske said. “You say, 'Huh, it's because I'm not stressed anymore.' It made a huge impact in my life."

The medical team at the breast surgery center said they know this is a big decision and they offer support throughout the process.

Jeneice Miller is the nurse practioner at Rable’s office and helps patients come up with the treatment option that’s best for them.

"It's very individual and people react to that information differently,” Miller said. “But not only are we having to address them, we have to address them being able to explain this to their family because those people are going to have to be tested as well."

Miller said this information makes a big difference for patients to determine what’s best for their health.

"If you had a family member who is affected at age 35, you need to start doing your screenings a lot sooner than that,” Miller said. “But if you had a family member who had breast cancer at 35, somebody needs to have genetic testing because that's a huge red flag."

While Chickoraske said the days after her surgery were hard and some movements are still painful, she’s glad she made this decision. She encourages other women to think about if it could help them.

"I think women should listen to their bodies, listen to their doctors, ask all the questions even if they think they're stupid and find out for themselves what's the right track," Chickoraske said.

Miller said the number of patients who want this type of testing is on the rise. She recommends it to anyone who has insurance. Without insurance, the cost is about $4,000.

Overall, preventative surgeries are based on a number of factors that are all up to the patient.

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