Woman fights breast cancer before it strikes with bold move - KCTV5

Young woman fights breast cancer before it strikes with bold move

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

When Heidi Henson talks about her decision to have both breasts removed, there is not an ounce of drama in her voice.

"It never hit me that I had it, but it hit me that I had to do something about it," she said.

The Kansas City woman has never had cancer but was introduced to its devastating effects at a young age.

Her mom, her aunts and her grandmother all had breast cancer.

So at age 20, she made a decision to get tested for the brca gene, also known as the breast cancer gene.

Doctors say women who test positive have an 85 percent risk of developing aggressive breast cancer.

Henson's test results came on Christmas.

"My mom brought the piece of paper in and she was crying," she said.

However, Henson didn't cry. She took charge, scheduling appointments with various specialists and ultimately surgery for a double prophylactic mastectomy, a seven-hour procedure removing every trace of breast tissue from her body.

After observing hundreds of surgeries as a pre-med student, it would be her first time as the patient.

"It was crazy to go from being someone observing in a room to giving up control and being the patient in the operating room," she said.

Recovery is supposed to be at least six weeks.

"I went back to work 2 1/2 weeks later," she said.

And she also stopped taking her pain killers. She wanted a clear head studying for her MCATS, which she never considered putting on hold.

On Monday, five months after her surgery, she is still in physical pain, but says she no longer has worry in the back of her mind.

The biggest thing hanging over her head is which medical school will accept her.

"If anyone is watching and scared to get this done, I want them to know it is scary, but it is worth it. The pain is worth it. The waiting is worth it because you don't have to worry the rest of your life if you're going to get breast cancer," she said.

While she waits to hear from medical schools, Henson has also been speaking to different groups about the brca gene test and her surgery.

And she has decided to change her specialty. She wants to be a breast cancer surgeon now.

She will be one of the few doctors who do this surgery who can tell their patients, "I know exactly what you're going through."

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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