Local woman speaks out about double mastectomy procedure

Reported by: Madison Corney
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Updated: 5/23/2013 11:47 pm
Reno, NV (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- A local woman shares her story and why she chose to get a double mastectomy at just 25 years old.

It's a procedure that not everyone agrees with, a double mastectomy. Since Angelina Jolie's announcement that she had the procedure done, many of our viewers sounded off about the major life choice.

I met with Jessica Haltom, who just recently had the procedure done, after finding out she carries a genetic mutation that could turn into breast cancer later in life.

Jessica says, "It just felt like such a burden to be so young and kind of be sentenced, like you're going to have cancer someday."

She decided to take action and underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, meaning both healthy breasts were removed. She says it wasn't an easy decision, "Emotionally, it was, I mean I feel okay now, but the month's leading up to the surgery were pretty rough. I was kind of a mess. Even my surgeon said 'you don't have go through with this, you can back out.'"

Though it is not an extremely popular surgery, rates for the invasive procedure are on the rise. Jessica's reasons for going through with it were very personal.

"What a woman chooses to do with the information I provide is very individual," says Robbin Palmer a Genetic Counselor in Northern Nevada.

Despite the emotional roller coaster Jessica experienced prior to the procedure she says it was the right choice for her, "But the day of my surgery I just...I knew it was the right thing."

Jessica had her first surgery in January to remove most of her breast tissue, then in April she had her permanent implants placed. The surgeries aren't cheap and many wonder, why go to such an extreme when there is still a chance of getting cancer.

Jessica said not everyone has had the same experiences, "Maybe they don't have families that have been plagued by cancer so they can't understand where we are coming from."

Prior to the the surgery Jessica had a 40 to 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer. Her mother, grandmother, aunt and numerous other women in her family have battled cancer. After the surgery, Jessica's risk is less than 10 percent.

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