Gene testing and personal considerations

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - As Director of Psychological Services at OB/GYN Specialists of hte Palm Beaches, Jennifer Goldin, Ph.D. is no stranger to tough questions. She helps women who are making choices after they have received results from the BRCA gene test.

The test has recently captured increased attention with the announcement by actress Angelina Jolie that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy, after learning from the BRCA gene test that she had an 87% risk of getting cancer.

"I think that's very personal. I would depend on where you are in your own family building. For me, it was a very easy decision," she said.

With history of cancer in her family, Goldin knew she had an elevated risk for cancer. Four years ago, her father got an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

"Watching somebody you love become ill is a very difficult thing to go through," she said.

Her father had tested positive for the BRCA gene. Before his passing, he urged the family to embrace medical options, leaving a detailed letter for each of his children to explain the BRCA test. With three young children of her own, Goldin wanted to know her risk and the potential risk she could pass to her kids.

"It's really important to know yourself and to know what it would be like for you to know that you're a carrier of that gene.  And that it's uncertain," she said.

Before the test, Goldin had embraced her next choice. She decided she would not hesitate, she would undergo preventive surgery. 

"Those few weeks between having the blood work drawn and getting the result, even though I knew what I was going to do if it was positive, were really scary," she said.

She tested negative, and now knows she has a normal risk for getting cancer. She says she was relieved to learn her children would also avoid having an elevated risk of cancer.

"Getting those results really eased my mind, so much. It was worth it," she said.

While one of Goldin's cousins has undergone the test and tested negative, Goldin's brothers and other cousins have not done the test.  She says it is important for every individual to take the necessary time to make an informed decision.

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