Kansas City native shares personal decision to undergo preventative mastectomy

Kansas City, Mo. - Call it the "Angelina Effect."

Ever since Angelina Jolie went public with her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, gene testing and preventative surgery have become hot topics among women.

Kansas City Native Kristin Gembala spoke out about her personal experience on Tuesday on 41 Action News Midday. She made the decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy about two years ago.

Gembala committed to the surgery after taking a gene test. Her Mother died of breast cancer when she was only 12 years old, and her sister was diagnosed about three years ago.

Both Gembala and her sister tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. That means, she has an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer and a 48 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer. Keep in mind, only 5-10 percent of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary .

Gembala wasn't shocked when she tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. However, her family was devastated.

"My husband was probably the most devastated I'd ever seen him and the scariest part is that we have four children, and so they each have a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene," she said.

Gembala stresses research in the decision making process.

"You have to really use your doctors and your geneticists and make good quality decisions for you and your family," she said.

Gembala also underwent reconstructive surgery after her procedure. She said she is happy with her decision, and encourages other women to look into it.

Note: Jennifer Klemp, Director of the Kansas Survivorship Program at the University of Kansas also weighed in on the issue. You can get her insight and advice in the attached video, along with Kristin's story.


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