Sand Springs breast cancer survivor admires celebrity's double mastectomy

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Updated: 5/14/2013 11:15 pm Published: 5/14/2013 11:09 pm

A Sand Springs breast cancer survivor admires celebrity Angelina Jolie's announcement about having a double mastectomy to try to prevent a breast cancer diagnosis.

"I applaud her decision to have her breasts removed," said breast cancer survivor Lee Ann Potter. "I know that is a hard and brave decision to make, but it is also not for everyone."

Jolie took a genetic test called the BRCA1. The results showed she had an 87 percent chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The test detects a gene mutation that can lead to breast cancer.

Jolie chose to have a double mastectomy earlier this year. Jolie said in an op-ed article in the New York Times that her decision stemmed from her mother's death from cancer at the age of 56.

"To make that decision is very brave prior to diagnosis," said Potter.

Potter was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2008. She chose to have a lumpectomy then and then it failed so she had to have another one two weeks later. In 2009 she also chose to have her ovaries removed.

"I know that having that hysterectomy can prevent breast and ovary cancer," said Potter.

She took the BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests to see if she had the gene mutation, which could develop into breast cancer. Her results came back negative. Then in 2010 she found out she had thyroid cancer.

She went through more preventative options but again in March of 2012 she was diagnosed with breast cancer again in the same breast she had the lumpectomy on.

"I hesitated about 30 minutes and then I knew I wanted to have the double mastectomy,” said Potter. "I just wanted to make sure I would not hear those words again, and I felt that was the right decision for my children and my husband and me."

Now she is facing the reconstruction process. The radiation she went through, she said, damaged her skin and made reconstruction a challenge. She will go to a hospital in New Orleans in a couple months to undergo procedures by its specialists in breast reconstruction.

The Tulsa affiliate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation executive director, Christy Southard, said she hopes Angelina Jolie's announcement reminds women to get tested.

"More women become aware, of 'I have not had my mammogram, I have not been to the doctor,'" said Southard. "Women are so busy. Angelina has six children! Everyone has children, jobs, and it's hard. We have to find it early and make those decisions."

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