NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If breast cancer runs in your family, it’s a good idea to get tested for the BRCA gene.
Testing positive means the chances of getting cancer are much higher, so even getting the test can be frightening.
Caroline Plank is incredibly close to her mother Debi, who beat stage 4 ovarian cancer years ago when Debi was a child.
Cancer runs in the family.
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“My father had pancreatic and my mother had lung cancer, my brother had breast cancer and my sister had breast cancer,” Debi said.
At 22 years old, Caroline tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene, which significantly increased her risk of getting cancer.
“With BRCA 2, it’s like a 90% chance over a lifetime to get breast cancer, and around a 70% chance for ovarian cancer,” Caroline said.
The most drastic measure would be a double mastectomy, which would cut her risk of getting breast cancer to one to two percent. Caroline decided to get the surgery, six years later after her uncle died from breast cancer and she found pre-cancerous lumps in her breast.
Caroline has been an athlete since she was a kid, and running had been a huge part of her life.
“My worst fear considering my double mastectomy was that I wouldn’t be able to run again and that it would be a lot harder to breathe,” she said.
Trevor Banks was her fiance and a filmmaker, together they documented her journey to help others know what to expect. She also started a blog called Bad Lemons.
It was a tough road, but Caroline was determined to achieve her goal of running her first marathon. She ran the New York City 11 months after her mastectomy. Her time: 3 hours 31 minutes.
She wanted people to see the surgery is really a second chance.
“It’s giving you a new lease on life, so take advantage of that lease on life,” Caroline said.
Caroline and Trevor are doing just that: They were married last month.