MILL CREEK—Imagine going through cancer surgery before you ever got sick. Two Snohomish County sisters did just that -- after seeing their mom go through a long and painful battle. Their mom, Lisa Thacker, waged an 8 1/2 year fight with ovarian cancer.
Renee Ummel and Denise Furrer went through genetic testing and found out they both carried the BRCA 2 gene. Dr. Elizabeth Swisher is the Director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer prevention program for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and said this mutation "dramatically increases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer."
With that information, the sisters decided to take preventative action.
"For me having that knowledge was empowering" Ummel explained. She and her sister decided to have their healthy reproductive organs removed to try and prevent cancer in the future. Ummel also elected to have a double mastectomy.
It's a move that could save their lives. "When women have their ovaries removed, not only does it prevent ovarian cancer, but it reduces, by at least half, the risk of breast cancer," Dr. Swisher explained.
A lot of people were shocked by their decision to have surgery.
"When you see a loved one go through what our mom went through, they understand" Ummel said as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Both women say they're happy with their decision. They were done having children and now feel peace of mind that they wont soon have to deal with cancer. Furrer is undergoing careful monitoring to make sure she doesn't develop breast cancer and hasn't ruled out the possibility of a mastectomy in the future.
Their mother didn't survive long enough to see them take these preventative measures, but both sisters believe she's proud. "Go girls" Furrer exclaimed; when asked what her mom might say. "She was a fireball. She's our inspiration. She went through a heck of a lot more," Ummel added.
The sisters are sharing their story because they want others who might have a history of ovarian cancer in their family to know about the genetic testing.
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