Angelina Jolie's story inspires local woman to come forward - CBS46 News

Angelina Jolie's story inspires local woman to come forward

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It has been seven years since Catherine Pfitzer learned she was positive for a genetic mutation that made her more susceptible to breast cancer. And, in that time, some of her closest friends still don't know she had a double mastectomy.

"It means a lot. This is typically not something most people know about me, but I feel comfortable sharing it now because she has come forward," Pfitzer said. "It raises awareness and the idea women don't need to be scared. They can get the information and the test done to choose the options for them, surgery may not be everyone's choice."

Pfitzer said her risk of developing breast cancer was 87 percent, the same risk as Angelina Jolie. Both have the same genetic mutation, BRCA1. The family history for Pfitzer and her risk for cancer is high. Her mother beat breast cancer. Her aunt beat breast and ovarian cancer. Her grandmother died from breast cancer.

"I believe after surgery they put my chances of getting breast cancer at 7 percent and it was 87 percent, and that is a lot closer to the regular population, and I can live with that and not walk around and feel like a ticking time bomb."

This is a decision that Pfitzer said isn't right for all women. For her there were a lot of factors for getting the operation. One she knew her family was high risk, she also wanted to be in control of her body and not lose her femininity.

"When they are cutting out cancer, it leaves you less choices for reconstruction," Pfitzer said.

"If you don't have cancer, you have a lot more options in terms of what you can do after a double mastectomy. There are some amazing doctors that do some really beautiful work so you don't lose your femininity, and you feel just as good as you did before the surgery."

There was also a high risk for Pfitzer of not being able to have children if she got breast cancer and went through chemotherapy.

"If I did get cancer the likelihood is I would have to have chemotherapy, and that could ruin ovaries to bear children," Pfitzer said.

The genetic mutation BRCA 1 costs nearly $3,000 for doctors to test for.

Pfitzer is the co-owner of Sugar Moon Bake Shop in Decatur. She plans to donate a portion of her sales in June to helping raise money for women to get the tests.

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