BRCA1-positive mom chooses mastectomy, breast reconstruction

Linda Phetphongsy is still trying to adjust to life with breast implants, though she welcomes the peace of mind they bring her. “I feel great, and I don’t have to worry as much about getting breast cancer,” she says. The 32-year-old mother of two underwent a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction last year after learning that she has a BRCA1 gene mutation, which puts her at increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Linda inherited the BRCA1 gene mutation from her mother, who had cancer three times — breast cancer in 2003, ovarian cancer in 2013, followed by an ovarian cancer recurrence in 2014. Her mom died of ovarian cancer in May 2016. “We lost my mom to cancer when she was in her late 50s, and I don’t want that to happen to my kids,” she says. Taking control of a BRCA1 mutation When Linda’s mom died, she’d already begun talking with Nicole Fleming, M.D., her mother’s doctor at MD Anderson in Sugar Land, about what she could do to reduce her own chances of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Fleming recommended a double mastectomy and eventually a hysterectomy. Linda quickly scheduled up an appointment with breast surgeon Makesha Miggins, M.D., to learn more about her options. “I decided to go ahead and do a mastectomy first after speaking with Dr. Miggins,” she says. “My mother had just passed, so at the time, it felt right. I wanted to do everything I can do to avoid getting cancer.” Linda’s mastectomy In August 2016, Linda underwent a double mastectomy. During the six-hour surgery, Miggins removed nearly all of...