'Dear boobies, I'm writing this letter to inform you...'
PORTLAND, Ore. - It's been five months since actress Angelina Jolie made the stunning announcement about her preventative double mastectomy and her candid op-ed piece about her choice got people talking.
Two sisters who paid close attention to Jolie's story decided to have the same surgery. We sat down with them Thursday night, just hours before their life-changing, possibly life-saving, operations at Oregon Health & Science University.
"Dear boobies. I'm writing this letter to inform you that I'm ending our relationship. I no longer wish to have you in my life..."
At first it seemed silly. Amber Egan-Fields' breakup letter to her breasts that she posted on Facebook. The word were upbeat, but her message was serious.
The 44-year-old woman and her sister, 35-year-old Carrie DeForest, have seen breast and ovarian cancer kill too many times. Nearly every woman on their father's side has been touched by the disease.
This year, DeForest decided to get tested for the breast cancer genes known as BRCA and she found out she was a carrier of the BRCA1 mutation. It was a discovery that came just as Angelina Jolie went public with her decision to have both her breasts removed.
"I didn't really share the news with a lot of people," DeForest said. "I was still processing it myself and trying to understand what my options were and what my risk levels were."
Egan-Field then got tested and learned that she also carries the same gene mutation.
The sisters said Angelina Jolie's story didn't influence their decisions, but it sure made it easier to talk about their fears.
Women who carry BRCA mutations have, on average, about a 65 percent risk of developing breast cancer and in some carriers the risk is even higher. That's compared to about 12 percent for most women.
When the sisters looked at the facts, they knew what they had to do.
"To me, it was a no brainer," said DeForest. "They're just body parts. So let's get rid of them and lower our risk."
"My husband was really supportive," she added. "He said 'I want you around - the kids and I need you. So we'll do what we need to do to keep you around.' "
Both sisters have also had hysterectomies and even with all of the surgeries, there are no guarantees they will be cancer free. But both of them said they will sleep better knowing they are no longer living under such a dark shadow.
Testing for the BRCA mutations can be very expensive - up to $4,000. Insurance companies do cover it, but in most cases only for women and men with certain risk factors.