RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- Actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to talk publicly about her decision to have both her breasts removed to prevent breast cancer is putting the life-saving surgery back in the spotlight.
Jolie says she underwent the procedure after genetic testing revealed she carries the BRACA-1 gene that greatly increases a woman's risk for breast cancer.
Randa Jackson of Powhatan supports Jolie’s decision to have the procedure and told us she was angered by some of the criticism she read of the actress online.
“A woman doesn't do this for publicity,” says Randa. “She's already famous. She was just trying to bring awareness. "
Randa says she identifies with Jolie because she plans to have the same surgery.
The number of women opting to have the preventive procedure has increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say.
Although Randa hasn't had genetic testing, she says she has a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. She's had two lumps removed and had a third scare recently. Fortunately, all were benign.
"At that point, I decided I'm not going to do this anymore,” says Randa. “I'm not dealing with it anymore. I'm going to take control of my life and that's what I did. "
Randa says she doesn't want to develop the same disease that took her aunt's life.
She says it’s no different than taking birth control.
"It's not about fear, it's about if you don't want to get pregnant, you take birth control or you use a condom,” says Randa. “It's the same thing. We're trying not to get breast cancer."
Dr. Jim Pellicane, Director of Breast Oncology for the Bon Secours Breast Center, says women with a 60- to 80-percent risk for breast cancer, can reduce their risk by 95-percent by having their breasts removed. And reduce their risk by up to 50-percent just by removing their ovaries.
Randa has advice for women weighing their options. "It's your body, you have to make the decision for yourself,” she says. “You must weigh the pros and cons and what you can deal with. "
Randa was scheduled to have the surgery last year, but had to postpone it when her husband lost his job and they lost their insurance.
She hopes to reschedule it soon.