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Questions About Genetics And Cancer? DFW Women Say, Come Ask Them

Courtney Collins
Cindy Salit and Julie Shrell both have BRCA mutations that heavily predispose them to breast and ovarian cancer.

North Texas women are grateful Angelina Jolie shone a light on genetic cancer risk and now they hope local ladies will tap into that knowledge.

The Dallas area chapter of the group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) meets tonight a 6 p.m. at Medical City in Suite A100. The meeting is completely open, so anyone with questions is encouraged to attend.

In a New York Times editorial earlier this week, Jolie revealed she had a BRCA1 gene mutation which puts her breast cancer risk over 80 percent and gives her a 50/50 chance of getting ovarian cancer. To dramatically lower her risk, Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy.

That’s a surgery Dallas resident Cindy Salit is familiar with; she had the same procedure in August. Salit has a BRCA2 gene mutation so she and Jolie share a similar risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Salit is thrilled such a visible celebrity had the guts to talk about it.

“I think all of us in the community are so excited to see that she came out so publicly,” Salit says. “It is so important that attention be put on it.”

Even more importantly, Salit wants women to realize that preventive surgery isn’t just an option for the super wealthy.

“Really most insurance companies do cover the procedure. It is absolutely an option for many, many women,” Salit says.

We first introduced you to Salit when we interviewed her at the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Annual Meeting back in October. Her sister had ovarian cancer and the experience was incredibly difficult for the whole family, but with genetic testing and proactive health care, Salit feels empowered.

“When you find out you have a mutated gene, it’s almost like you are waiting for a shoe to drop,” Salit says. “But you don’t have to live in fear; you have the knowledge that you can take control of your health.”

For more information about genetic cancer risk, check out the FORCE resource page. If you want to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor, click here to find one near you.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.