Previvors and Life-Changing Decisions

LOS ANGELES (KFSN) -- Instead of hearing 'you have cancer' these people hear 'you may get cancer.' They are called previvors, meaning their chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer are higher than most people. So the care they need is different than actual cancer patients.

Somaya Ishaq couldn't put her finger on it, but recently something just wasn't right. To get down to the bottom of it she decided to undergo genetic testing.

"I wanted to see why I wasn't feeling a hundred percent and I had a gut feeling," said Ishaq.

Tests revealed she had a harmful BRCA2 gene mutation. Her doctor said that meant a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Ishaq's mother is an ovarian cancer survivor.

"Where genetic testing I think is vital is in women and men who have family histories that would support the possibility of an actual diagnosis that we could act upon," detailed Lisa Abaid, MD, gynecologic oncologist at Hoag Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

This wife and mother of two is called a 'previvor,' predisposed to cancer, but hasn't yet had the disease.

"I shed a lot of tears by myself, with my husband, just thinking about it," said Ishaq.

Dr. Abaid said, "She felt that the appropriate course for her with respect to her ovarian cancer risk was to remove the ovaries."

Ishaq welcomed her doctor's one-stop, holistic approach with a multidisciplinary team of experts.

"Eating healthier, going go the gym, the yoga and meditation, there's bits and pieces of all that, that I do use in my daily life now," detailed Ishaq.

Ishaq plans a double mastectomy in a few years to further reduce her cancer risk.

"Whenever I'm physically and mentally ready, then I'm ready to do the next step," continued Ishaq.

For now, she runs full speed ahead cheered on by a family that supports her decisions - no matter how difficult they are.

The American Cancer Society says more than 23,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and more than 266,000 with invasive breast cancer. If you have a family history of either one, have a frank and open conversation with your doctor about your risks and choices.

For More Information, Contact:
High Risk Breast & Ovarian Cancer Program
Chelsea Thompson, Public Relations
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