Picture provided by: Claudia Gilmore
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Some women under the age of 30 are considering having their breasts removed if they carry the BRCA 1 or 2 gene mutations. Many people may find it a drastic measure, but for women like Claudia Gilmore who said she wants to be a previvor not merely a survivor it is her way of beating breast cancer.
"We are all born with a castle and everybody has this big beautiful moat that protects them from cancer and disease, but for me, I have no moat; my castle is completely defenseless," she told us.
Claudia a 23-year-old Georgetown Graduate student felt she was defenseless against breast cancer, just like her beloved grandmother was. Her grandmother beat breast cancer but died after a long battle with stage 4 ovarian cancer.
Her grandmother carried the breast cancer genetic mutation and Claudia's dad also tested positive for BRCA 1 and he passed the mutation on to her.
Claudia said, "I was shocked, totally shocked. I had brainwashed myself into thinking that this was not in my future at all."
Her future would now mean regular breast and ovarian screenings and a significantly higher cancer risk.
But Claudia's decided to build her own "moat". She will reduce her chances of a diagnosis by almost 98% with a double prophylactic mastectomy.
"I don't even know what it's going to be like to wake up and realize that my lifetime risk was 85% now it's 1 maybe 2%. I just can't even grasp the relief I am going to feel," she said.
Dr. Shawna Willey a breast surgeon at Georgetown University Hospital is Claudia's surgeon she told us "As a gene mutation carrier, we know early diagnosis is a hallmark of that disease. It's important for all of these patients to understand that it's not 100% risk reduction."
In the meantime, Claudia, who calls herself a Pre-Vivor, has gone public with her decision. She has a Facebook blog and she's produced an online series with "web-isodes" airing every three weeks until a full length documentary is distributed later in the year.
Claudia shared with us, "A lot of people find the genetic mutation to be a burden. But I really consider myself blessed and empowered. This is my only tool, my writing and my voice so I am going to let it sing."
Claudia will undergo surgery in January.