SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA.com) — A local woman shared her plans to undergo a preventative double mastectomy one day after Angelina Jolie’s stunning announcement.
Ally Durlester, 26, said like Jolie, she will have both of her breasts removed by the end of the year after she tested positive with the BRCA2 mutation.
“When I first tested positive, I had a hard time. I wasn’t really sure what decisions to make and it was overwhelming, but after a few months passed, I realized I was absolutely having the surgery,” she said.
Ally said her choice was driven by the fact that her grandmother died of breast and ovarian cancer and six of her grandmother’s sisters died of cancer.
She said her mother, Nicki Durlester, also helped her make the life-altering decision.
Nicki said, “I was diagnosed with Stage IIA invasive ductal carcinoma. I had one positive node and I was filled with regret. The regret was suffocating for me.”
Nicki said she decided not to have a prophylactic double mastectomy when she tested positive for the BRCA2 gene back in 2001.
“It really wasn’t spoken much back then,” she said.
Nicki, now a breast cancer survivor, wrote a book, Beyond the Pink Moon, which chronicled her struggles with the disease. Soon after, she created a Facebook group as a platform for women from around the world to share their stories.
The group inspired Nicki to write a second book, which included a passage from Ally.
“I felt like that was the first time that I could really have a voice and I wrote my story there,” said Ally.
“She was born fearless, she’s a lot like my mother,” Nicki said of Ally.
In two weeks, Ally will start her new job as program director for Pink Lotus Petals, a non-profit organization with the Pink Lotus Breast Center.
She said she wanted to help women tackling the same struggles.
Nicki and Ally said they’re confident Jolie’s announcement will also guide women across the world.
“Angelina Jolie is a global icon and she is putting a face on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It took great courage for her to come out and share her story. I think that sometimes it takes that in order to validate what we’re going through,” said Nicki.
JoAnn Klein, who is recovering from a double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation, echoed the mother and daughter’s comments.
However, unlike Ally, Klein waited until she was diagnosed with cancer to get the procedure.
Ten days after surgery, she told KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii that she’s grateful to Jolie for being so candid about her medical journey and hopes raising the profile of preventative testing will help to save lives.
“Some people say, ‘I don’t even want to know if I do have cancer.’ And I think someone like Angelina Jolie could change that,” Klein said.