"My family, friends, sister and doctors all wanted me to have the surgeries right away," Fassnacht said. "I was very reluctant. I suppose I was still in a bit of denial. I was a single parent, working full time as a nurse, and spending my weekends driving four hours to help care for my sister. I didn't have time to think about me."
She eventually went for the test, convinced that the results would be negative.
After hearing the results were positive, she remembers feeling shocked. Since then she has undergone a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and she is scheduled to undergo a hysterectomy later this month.
"It has been very difficult. Not only did I have to lose my breasts that make me look like a woman, but I also will soon lose my ovaries that make me a woman. I remember telling my sister 'Oh, they are just breasts. The doctors will give you new and improved ones when you are all done.' Now I know why that was the wrong thing to say," she says.
At the time of her mastectomy, Lisa was newly engaged (she is now married) and worried that cutting off her breasts and having a hysterectomy would change the dynamic of their relationship emotionally, physically and sexually. She says her husband, Dave Fassnacht, was -- and is -- absolutely supportive.
"She is my hero for making the very difficult decision to have these surgeries, while 100% healthy, to prevent cancer from taking a wonderful wife and mother from my life and the lives of her children," her husband says. "We will always be grateful for what she is doing."
Tobey Young, 54, believes you have to be positive when going through this journey. While there will be hiccups, staying positive is key for speeding along the recovery process, she says -- allowing you to be here for your childrens' weddings, the next birthday and your next anniversary.
It has been five years since Young's last surgery and she says she feels absolutely fabulous. Young has never had cancer and therefore identifies with the term "previvor." The term has been adopted by many carriers who have taken preventive measures -- surgeries, drugs or vigilant screenings -- to dramatically reduce their risks of developing the disease.
In 2007, Young's physician told her she was positive for the BRCA gene. The first thing she remembers saying was, "Cut off my boobs -- what, are you crazy?" She was aware of her family's history of cancer and was already vigilant in testing for breast cancer through screenings and mammograms.
But, she says, after being in denial for about 20 minutes, she made the decision to have her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
"I was a ticking time bomb with an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 44% (chance) of ovarian cancer," she says. "(I) didn't like the odds."
She still gets screenings, although she has been told the chances of her developing cancer are slim. She no longer needs mammograms and describes her breasts as beautiful. She is also no longer in fear of developing cancer and is very involved with the organization she founded after being tested, previvorsandsurvivors.com.
She created the organization to offer support to women who are BRCA gene carriers.
"While I was going through my previvor experience, I was invited to join a group of women breast cancer survivors," Young said. "I can certainly empathize with the breast cancer community, but those of us who have never heard the words 'You have breast cancer' are not the same."