Women learn from Jolie's announcement

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People love to talk about Angelina Jolie. Her lips, her legs and now her brave decision to go public with her mastectomy and pending removal of her ovaries to try to prevent cancer.

It is exactly what Mary Howard and Yvonne Green talked about during their lunchtime walk at the Jacksonville Landing on Wednesday.

Green said she didn't know there was a connection between breast cancer and ovarian cancer until Jolie's announcement.

Melinda Fawbush counsels patients about their cancer risk and genetic testing at Baptist Health. She says the connection between breast and ovarian cancer is right in the name.

Those who test positive for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome.

Fawbush said unlike Jolie, more patients decide to remove their ovaries first.

"Probably having an oophorectomy, which is the medical name for having your ovaries out, is chosen more often actually than the mastectomy because it's a much simpler operation," Fawbush said.

Jeri Millard owns In the Pink, a nonprofit store in Jacksonville Beach catering to cancer survivors. She does not have the gene, but after doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer, she decided to have both breasts removed.

"Made two little incisions, went down, yanked those puppies out and that was the end of that, and I was back at work the next day," Millard said.

And because of the connection with ovarian cancer, she said, "I found it an easy decision because I had previously had cancer twice and just didn't want something that was another target."

She, like other survivors, is thankful Jolie's decision to remove her breasts and ovaries is also removing the misconceptions that can go with that decision.

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