BRCA gene: Local family's journey to prevent breast cancer

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)
The Gareau family (Source: WOIO)
The Gareau family (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A local family is sharing their personal story about their history of breast cancer and their mission to prevent it.

At age 34, Jennifer Gareau tested positive for the BRCA gene, which is linked to breast cancer. The genes produce proteins that help suppress tumors. If the BRCA genes are mutated, the risk of developing breast cancer increases, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Her sister, Lauren McBride also tested positive for the gene at age 31. Both sisters decided to have a double mastectomy and have their breasts removed. They bonded as breast cancer "pre-vivors."

A blood test determined that both women were positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Women who test positive have as much as an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer.

"If you were getting on a flight and the flight crew told you, you have an 87% chance of crashing on this flight, would you get on the flight? Of course not, nobody would," says Jennifer.

"Let's do it. Let's just get it over with," says Lauren.

The procedure dropped their chances of getting breast cancer to 4 percent.

The sisters' decision was made easier because breast cancer is in their family history. Their grandmother Rose was the first to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation. Rose, a breast cancer survivor, tested positive for the BRCA mutation and had a 50 percent chance of passing that mutation to her children.

Three generations of women in the Gareau family have now been tested. One of the youngest tested was actually found positive for the early stages of breast cancer.

"It was so early that she didn't need any chemo or anything because they got it all out. But she was only 27 years old," says Jennifer.

The BRCA mutation also increases the risk for other cancers, like ovarian cancer. Click here for additional information about the BRCA gene.

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