CLEVELAND (WJW) – It is a cancer risk factor millions of people cannot control, genetics.
Sharon Kovach of Columbus was diagnosed in 1999 at the age of 40 and started getting mammograms before the recommended age because of what she calls bad genes.
“I was diagnosed after a routine mammogram and I had been getting mammograms for at least 5 or 10 years because unfortunately, the bad genes that we have,” Sharon said.
Her grandmother had breast cancer in the 1950s, and her mother in the ’80s. Sharon had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, but then more bad news.
“…unfortunately, four years later it came back and at that point, I had to go through chemo and radiation,” she said.
Knowing the family history, Sharon’s only child Michelle decided to undergo genetic testing while in college, which revealed she had the BRCA gene and would most like have the same fate as her mother, if she didn’t take drastic action.
“I always told her ‘it ends with me,'” Sharon said. “You know, I’m third generation this is it, it’s gotta stop.”
“It was kind of scary, but also a relief to know about this gene,” Michelle said. “And it was kind of nice to have an answer as to why so many people in our family were diagnosed and had it.”
Modern technology, when it comes to genetic testing, is ever evolving. BRCA gene testing gaining awareness thanks to actress Angelina Jolie in 2013. And doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say there’s now new technology to prevent future generations from even getting cancer.
“We now offer what’s called pre-implantation genetic testing,” Director of Medical Breast Services at the Cleveland Clinic Dr. Holly Pederson said. “And we have the capability of doing invitro-fertilization, test the embryos and only implant embryos that don’t carry the gene.”
Now 32, Michelle decided to have a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction at the Cleveland Clinic last Fall.
The second grade teacher’s risk of getting cancer now less than 4%.
This mother-daughter is bond now stronger than ever, with Mother’s Day having even greater meaning.
“I didn’t want her to have to go through that, but she had the option and she took it so, I was really proud of her,” Sharon said.