Tayler Cox Lonsdale was in the middle of planning her wedding when she learned she had the BRCA1 gene mutation at the age of 29.
The TODAY show reports that after she consulted with her oncologist, Lonsdale decided to not have the surgery and instead get closely monitored and alternate between mammograms and MRIs regularly.
According to the research foundation Susan G. Komen, only 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers are made up of genetic mutations. If you carry the BRCA1 gene, there is a 55 to 65 percent chance you will develop cancer by the age of 70 and a 45 percent risk for BRCA2 carriers.
“Everyone has a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene,” said Susan Brown, senior director of health education at Komen. “When they function properly, they are tumor suppressor genes. It’s the mutated forms that carry risk.”
Lonsdale, a former strategist for a Silicon Valley software company, and her husband are trying to start a family and she told TODAY, “I want to do all the childbearing as soon as possible and after that, reevaluate for surgery.”
“Certainly, I am at much higher risk — by about 3 percent at my age,” she said. “But I am going to try to focus on the 97 percent for the next couple of years.”
It is certainly not “uncommon” for women of Lonsdale’s age to want to complete their families and then “revisit the issue.” It is all an individual choice.
Lonsdale, 30, thought there was no history of breast cancer in her family, but that was not true.
Her husband Joe, an investor in a gene testing company, suggested she take his company’s $249 gene test after she received negative results for mutations from a previous test.
“When they told me over the phone and explained the nuances and the mutation, it was a bit of a shock," she said.
After getting her results, she urged her mother to take the test. Leah Cox, 64, learned she had the BRCA mutation and had a preventative surgery to remove her ovaries. It revealed she had stage 3 cancer and had to undergo four-and-a-half months of chemotherapy.
Today, Lonsdale says that once her family is complete she will likely have surgery to remove her ovaries and breasts.
“I am pretty confident it’s the right way to go,” she said, but admits waiting is “a little terrifying — like being a sitting duck.”