Until yesterday Teresa Schincariol probably didn't have much in common with Angelina Jolie. One genetic test changed all that.
"In 2003 I had my genes tested and found I had the BRACA1 gene," said Schincariol, a mother and housewife.
The BRACA1 cancer carrying gene is the same one Jolie has.
Yesterday, the actress announced she had a preventative double mastectomy.
Schincariol went through that same surgery in 2010.
"For me, it was a no brainer," she said. "You not only have to think about yourself but think of the future. I want to be there. I want to be there to see my girls graduate and see them get married.
The test for cancer causing genes is a simple blood test. But in order to get the test, you have to be high risk, have a recommendation from a doctor and you have to see a genetic councillor. If the test comes back positive the risk of getting cancer is as high as 60-70 per cent.
That's why Dr. Caroline Hamm said most of her patients who get the result make the proactive decision to remove their breast.
"We're talking about lifetime risks. This is nothing you'll have to decide on today or tomorrow," she said. "It's something you'll have to think about , discuss with your family, your husband, your spouse and make sure everyone is in agreement that this is the right thing to do. It's not an easy decision at all. "
For Schincariol's 18-year-old daughter, it's a decision that she and her sister may have to make someday.
The gene is hereditary.
"If it does come down to the time that I do in fact have the gene then I know to take the same steps as my mom," Erica Schincariol said.
She said knowing she may carry the genetic mutation isn't much of a concern.
"It doesn't affect me too much. I see the way my mom lives her life, she has the gene. My aunt has had breast cancer and they're doing just fine," Erica Schincariol said. "I am very thankful for what I have and it doesn't make me nervous at all."
Her mom has had reconstructive surgery and has no regrets.
"My image, my look, doesn't define me as a woman. I'm a lot happier now with that decision, it took a big weight off of my shoulders," Teresa Schincariol said.
Today she helps others through the process as the president of Genetics Support group.
Schincariol said she received a call just Tuesday morning from a woman interested in getting more information on the support group and genetic testing.
According to Schincariol, the woman placed the call after hearing of Jolie's decision to speak out.