MADISONVILLE—They are more than sisters, they're best friends, and an unlikely event has actually strengthened the bond between three North Shore women. ABC26 News Reporter Vanessa Bolano talks with them about what they're doing.
The threat of breast cancer haunted Susie Stoulig, Pam Crimmins, and Deedee King for years. Their mother was diagnosed at 56, an older sister at 36, and a niece at 26.
"I was the one that dreaded mammograms. I just knew that every time I was going to get tested, I was going to have it, and now I don't worry anymore," says King.
King doesn't worry because she underwent genetic testing to see if she had BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, and her results were negative.
Dr. Fern Tsien, Instructor in the Department of Genetics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Geneticist, says, "If there's a mutation, or something wrong with one of these genes, then the gene loses its protection, so that there's no tumor suppression." Dr. Tsien says research shows, if you test positive, your chances of developing breast cancer increase from up to 12% to up to 85%.
King's two sisters tested positive.
"I knew immediately what I was going to do, and within two weeks I had surgery scheduled," says Crimmins.
Crimmins, an Oncology nurse says she's seen too many patients die as a result of breast or ovarian cancer, so she scheduled a double- mastectomy and hysterectomy, and once her sister Susie Stoulig heard she also tested positive, she did the same.
"It's a life changing decision to make, but I think it's given us a new lease on life."
Deedee King turned the guest room into an infirmary twice, first in October and then again in December. "I didn't test positive and I was able to do it for the while they were going through a hard time."
Susie Stoulig says, "I wanted to do this. I have 5 grandchildren, all under 2 and I wanted to be able to see them at least graduate kindergarten, so I feel like I might have that chance now."
"That's what's so good about genetic testing. When families do it together they can support one another, and be there for one another and it makes it a lot easier to make the choices," says Stoulig.
Stoulig and Crimmins have had reconstruction surgery and say the scars have healed both inside and outside.