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STORY BY GERI MCSHANE

Survival

SISTERHOOD AND

Sisters Linda Anderson, Anita Kes and Lorna Berg share a laugh. The three are very close, and all had the same surgery on the same day as a preventive measure against ovarian cancer.

THE HANSON FAMILY.

thanks to genetic testing, three sisters

know that ovarian cancer does as well. so, they decided to fight back. sisters lorna berg of albert lea, anita

Kes of eagan and linda anderson of rochester lost their mother, florence, and aunt edna to breast cancer just four months apart back in 1972. then the disease struck the next genera-

tion. linda was diagnosed with breast cancer

in november of 1988 at the age of 37 and had a mastectomy followed by chemother- apy and reconstructive surgery, and anita followed suit in 1992 at age 36. she even took part in a chemotherapy study. “doctors think i had it since my early- to

mid-20s,” anita says. “they think our mother had it starting in her 40s.” their mother was 66 when she was diag-

nosed. lorna had an unclear mammogram and some calcification, so she talked with dr. stephen thorn at albert lea medical center about having a prophylactic mastec- tomy. it’s likely she would have breast can- cer at some point in her life, doctors said. however, lorna’s husband’s insurance

BREAST CANCER RUNS IN

company refused to pay for the procedure, so she went onto her own employer’s plan and waited a year. because her plan put an emphasis on wellness, insurance covered the procedure. based on family history, linda underwent full-spectrum genetic testing in 2007. she learned that she did indeed have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

syndrome is a genetic condition caused by a mutation in either of two genes called brca1 and brca2. everyone has two copies of these genes; one is inherited from their mother and one from their father. When an individual carries an alteration in one of these genes, their chances of devel- oping breast or ovarian cancer is signifi- cantly higher than average. for example, women in the general pop-

ulation have a one in eight or a 12 percent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Women who carry an altered brca1 or brca2 gene have an estimated 60 to 80 percent risk. in regard to ovarian cancer, women in the general population have a 1 in 70 or a 1.4 percent chance to develop ovarian can- cer in their lifetime. Women who carry an altered brca1 gene have an estimated 20

8 ♦ Southern Minnesota Magazine ♦ Venus 2010

to 54 percent risk and women who carry an altered brca2 gene have an estimated 18 to 27 percent risk. linda had the mutation in the brca2

gene. as doctors knew what to look for, anita only had to be tested for the specific gene. lorna too got the test for the gene, although a nurse practitioner wanted her to see a genetic counselor. both anita and lorna were positive for the gene mutation as well. so, the sisters made the decision to have

their ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed. they scheduled their surgeries together on dec. 16, 2008. they made a slumber party out of the

event and their daughters came with them. all three have one daughter each. “We were quite a hit when we all three

had the same surgery the same day,” lorna recalls. “the operating teams and the pre- op teams who dealt with us were all smiling and got a kick out of it. We made it a fun experience. the doctor said she had had two sisters have the same surgery same day, but had never had three sisters.” their husbands were also behind them. “Our husbands were very supportive in wanting us to stay alive and healthy,” lorna says.

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