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Many women faced with drastic decision regarding health

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Updated: 5/15/2013 10:55 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Mothers, daughters and sisters across the country are talking about the decision made by one of Hollywood’s biggest stars to undergo a double mastectomy in order to avoid getting breast cancer.

Angelina Jolie announced this week she had made that decision and she is not alone. Another local woman faced a similar scenario and today she shared her story with News 3's Sandra Gonzalez.

Luxury Las Vegas Magazine Editor In-Chief Beth Schwartz went for her first mammogram at 40 and they made her come back again for a biopsy.

“She came right in the office and she looked at me and she goes, `It's not going to be what you want to hear from me today. I have some bad news, it is the breast cancer’,” Schwartz said.

It was stage zero, meaning it was captured pretty early.

She decided to also do cancer gene testing.

“I was sitting there and we were talking about doing the BRAC 1 and BRAC2 test about if I had the gene, they would have to take my ovaries next, and I am 'Oh my God, and I’m just trying to come to grips with the fact that I have breast cancer,' now I have to come to the grips with the possibility that I might have to have my ovaries removed too,” Schwartz said.

The test was negative for mutations; however the thought of having her ovaries removed or another spot of cancer showing up was enough for her to make a decision for a mastectomy.

“Oh absolutely it was a hard decision. Absolutely, I mean I’m 40 years old, to already lose my breast at 40 years old that's really young. When i was diagnosed I was 40, that was really young to lose your breast,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz had reconstructive surgery, and eventually decided to get some therapy as emotions are tender when "losing womanly curves" as she says. But ultimately that does not define her womanhood.

“My body is not deformed. My body looks fine. I look great in a bikini,” Schwartz said.

Reflecting back, while her first mammogram did bring bad news, she says her doctor told her it's a good thing she went.

“I wouldn't have caught that in 3-4 years, and at that point you would have been fighting for your life,” Schwartz says she was told.

She can't stress enough to other women not to let that mammogram go, and she says she knows women approaching 50 who still haven't had one.

Also, she says for those who are financially able to be cancer gene tested, to definitely consider it; and to keep up with your breast health.

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