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"Breast cancer is not usually an emergency. A lot of less experienced doctors will try to rush you into something, but it's about finding the right treatment, not the fastest treatment," Dr. Marcus says. And while it's important to make healthy choices, it's just as important to be gentle with yourself. "Once a cancer develops, it's no longer relevant how you got it. What's important is to be aware and make an action plan [for treatment]."
"If you find out you are high risk, it's not a death sentence," Dr. Thompson says. Things have dramatically improved over the past few decades. "We have surveillance and also surgical and medicinal options (chemoprevention) that can greatly reduce your risk."
She knows of what she speaks. "I had a prophylactic mastectomy (surgical removal of both breasts to prevent an occurrence of breast cancer before it starts) in 2006 because I have four generations of breast cancer in my family. And these are not your grandma's mastectomies! The surgery reduces your risk by 99 percent, and the options for reconstruction are incredible," she says. "You could see me in regular clothes or a swimsuit and never know. I wouldn't say this is the right decision for everyone but it absolutely was for me."
What every woman (of every age) needs to know
woman in bra at doctor's office
9 Must-Know Facts About Breast Cancer