Earlier this week, actress Angelina Jolie revealed she'd had a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
In an editorial published in The New York Times, Jolie revealed she has the mutant form of the BRCA-1 gene which is associated with higher than normal rates of breast or ovarian cancer.
Following on the heels of Jolie’s very public decision, CBC's Silvana Benolich spoke with a 23-year-old Edmonton woman who has made the same difficult choice.
Janine Blair was 19 years old when she found out she had the mutant form of the BRCA-1 gene.
She had the genetic test done after after her mother and older sister were both diagnosed with breast cancer.
But Blair said it wasn’t until she watched her sister lose her own battle with cancer that she knew what she had to do.
Blair’s mother Mary McDonald is the CEO of the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Society - an organization that helps education and support people who've been born with an increased genetic predisposition for these cancers.
She said she supports her daughter’s decision wholeheartedly.
"I know what it's like to live for years with that cloud over your head," said McDonald. "She can move on after this."
And while Jolie’s very public announcement earlier this week about her own testing and mastectomy has triggered a rush to genetic testing clinics, medical professionals in Edmonton are quick to point out it's not necessarily something everyone should consider.
"My biggest worry on this is that a lot of people that are not in the high-risk category will think they are," said Dr. Dawna Gilchrist, a clinical geneticist at the University of Alberta Hospital.
"It's a common misconception that all breast cancers are due to these two genes, and the truth of the matter is... it's only one to two per cent."
But for women within that small margin, said Gilchrist, a double mastectomy can reduce the chance of getting breast cancer by about 90 per cent.