Monday, September 24, 2007
Lindsay Avner
Albert Camus said, "There are some people who prefer to look their destiny straight in the eye." Lindsay Avner is, without a doubt, one of those people. At a healthy 23, she volunteered to get a double mastectomy because virtually every woman in her life, her mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunts and cousins, suffered from or died of breast cancer.

Avner took control of her own destiny after a blood test revealed she had a genetic predisposition to the disease. She didn't want to live in fear. She wanted to meet her future husband and say, "we got this out of the way so our family won't go through what I did growing up."

With her new nonprofit organization, Avner is helping raise money and awareness for the disease she knows she won't suffer from but other women will. The mantra is "Be Brilliant. Be Bold. Be Bright Pink." They are things Avner has mastered and with this community, she tries to empower other women to also look their own destiny and the disease straight in the eye.

Update: Thank you all for such an amazing response to this post! Comments are no longer being accepted. Be sure to check out the CNN.com Live Video interview
Lindsay, what an amazing decision for you to make. As a 24 year-old woman myself, I find your story inspiring and hope that other young people will look towards your example in trying to make a positive difference in the world.
Isn't this move a little drastic?

Can't Lindsay get exams very frequently instead of lopping off her breasts? Please clarify, because i'm a little horrified by this peice.
Hi Lindsay,

I work in a major cancer center
in NYC and like you have a high cancer risk due to family history.
I feel bad for what you went through, but also feel great for you in that you had the courage to have the surgery performed. I wish
you the best of health, happines,
and peace of mind.
Wow, I am very impressed with you. We live in a world that is so consumed with surgical beauty that the heart is masked and overlooked. Our insecurities have seemingly dominated our lives to the point that we have lost sight of what really matters in life. I hope and pray that you meet a good guy and have a wonderful family and life.
Hi Lindsay,
While your personal story is compelling, even more profound is your inspiring leadership to educate young woman about testing and prevention. May all women BE BRIGHT PINK.

Barbara
Lindsay, coming from a mans point of view, what you did is truely amazing and brave. I applaud you for it. Although you are young, and some say it may have been drastic, it comes down to one thing: it's your decision, your body, nobody elses.
Lindsay,

Working in the medical field and studying the biological sciences (genetics in particular) makes me understand this story. You are a very, very brave young women. At being 27 myself I can't imagine having to make that choice myself, but not just one body part defines who you are, it is your whole being. Good for you for being aware of your health and taking actions to prevent something as life threatning as cancer.
I wonder if Lindsay realizes death will come her way even with no breasts. If she has a predisposition for cancer, chances are she will die of cancer anyway. No human being lives forever, dear. You are no God to play Savior. WWJD?
The predisposition to breast cancer wouldn't have guaranteed Lindsay the development of breast cancer. Though her actions took guts, there is also the possibility that cancer research could develop a cure or effective treatment in the next 20 years. This is especially true since cancer research is some of the highest funded research in the world.
exams aren't always accurate. she is taking any measure necessary to save her own life. what is so horrifying about that?
I disagree with "anonymous" - after my mom was diagnosed - we found out the tumors were benign, but we were lucky. My mom and I participate in Race for the Cure and such things other than that that go toward the cure...
You are so brave and I think this is one of the most awesome things I have ever read. I'm 20... and I don't know if I could've done that. But considering your circumstances, I see why you did this. Congratulations to a Cancer-free life.
-Melissa, IN
Lindsay,
I am amazed by the courage and complete self confidence that it must have taken to perform this surgery. I hope that if i ever encounter anything like this in my life that i will be able to be as positive and inspiring as you have been to every woman that reads this article.
thanks so much for sharing your story!
I am adopted and have no medical history what kind of advise would you give a person like me?
This was a brave move on your part. I am a guy but I can only imagine what a big decision this must've been for you. The article mentioned you want to get married and not have this problem to deal with. There are other issues that may occur based on your current decision that may hinder you from sustaining a 'healthy' marriage, such as the intimacy and physical attraction side of relationships. Of course, finding the person who loves you for who you are is the ultimate goal. But we all know it takes more than that for relationships to last a life time. How do you plan to continue the 'attractive-ness/intimacy' required to sustain a healthy marriage that maybe affected by your mastectomy? Will you get breast implants in the future?
Lindsay,
I am amazed at the courage and complete self confidence it must have taken to undergo this surgery. I hope that if i am ever faced with anything like this in my life, i can be as positive and inspiring as you have been. You are truley an example of a strong, amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing your story, good luck in all that you do.
Lindsay - Good for you! You are very courageous and wise to take control of your life instead of waiting around and wondering if you will be a victim. God bless you - Good luck!
Did you have reconstructive surgery? I'm curious, as I am in the same position as you, and I have just battled (and for the time being won) Ovarian cancer. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I'm very impressed with your courage, I believe you did the right thing, and that is what I'm going to do to. Thank you for sharing with all of us, bold moves like yours, will inspire others, and save lives.
I find this to be drastic, paranoid and quite honestly sad. I am saddened that sensible adults in your life didn't steer you away from self mutilation on the CHANCE, yes chance mind you, that you might get breast cancer.
In response to the person who thought this horrifying & too drastic...it really isn't if you want to stay alive. My sister has a few months to live as she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she did get regular screenings! Her cancer is a very aggressive cancer and grew very quickly IN BETWEEN HER SCREENINGS! Some women do still die even when their cancer is found early. Each person is different, cancers are different and it's truly not worth the risk for high-risk women who have a good chance of getting the disease. One can also choose to have breast reconstruction afterwards. I value my life over my breasts any day.
I am assuming she has the option of breast implants. This makes the decision actually quite easy. Not only is she safe from cancer, but now she can have the perfect and paid for breasts.
I too had a family history on both sides, and was having mamograms every 6 months followed usually by a biopsy because there was always something suspicious found. I choose at the age of 50 to have a double mastectomy to rid myself of the constant fear of when I would be diagonosed not if. As is turned out, my pathology report came back and there was cancer there. Because I caught it so very early, no other treatment was needed. I made the right decision and I applaud you for your courage.
As a man, I find this decision both to be shocking, horrible, defeatist and myriad number of other things.

To remove your breasts because you were genetically predisposed to breast cancer is extreme. Women should be horrified that another woman actually thought this was a good idea. Let me cut my breasts off now, just to be sure I can never get breast cancer.

The doctor who performed this surgery should have his licensed revoked. This isn't the 1800's when you saw someone leg off because we don't know any better.

I don't think this woman "rocks", I think she has some serious deep seated emotional and mental issues that should have been addressed before allowing her to voluntarily have her breast removed with no sign of cancer evident and no medical reason to remove healthy tissue.

Especially at 23, we think we know how we are going to be for our lives and know who we are, but we change daily and this is something she will truly regret later.

Somehow this woman is now being idolized for her self-mutilation and extreme measures to prevent cancer. To just say because other females in my family have gotten breast cancer, I am just going to remove mine now and get it over with. I feel sorry for her now and in her future.
I cannot believe how completely ignorant the anonymous person is. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer at 35 years old and having two maternal aunts suffer and die from breast cancer, I also chose to be genetically tested for the genes. Blessed be me because I dont carry the BRCA genes, but had I had to make that decision, I would have DONE EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Until you walk a mile in someone's shoes, you shouldn't pass judgment on their decisions. She saw how devestating this disease is first hand, and I applaude her and her decision! YOU GO GIRL! :)
Sure, you can be frequently monitored instead of having a bilateral mastectomy. But, there is always a chance the something can be missed and many women don't want to have to constantly live with the fear of "when" it is going to happen instead of "if."

I also carry one of the BRCA genes. After watching my mother go through cancer treatment two times and having my own cancer found this summer, I also decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. The risk of a new cancer developing was too high for my comfort and I don't want to spend the rest of my life fearing the cancer coming back.

This decision was difficult, but one that made sense for me and for my family. It's not the right thing for everyone, but the best thing women can do is to be informed of their risks and the choices available to them to reduce their risk to the level with which they are most comfortable.

I applaud the women who take control of their health and their future!
I think that is great to eliminate a problem before it arises, but how do you feel self esteem wise when you wear your clothes? Will you get implants or use padded bras and stuff them or how will you carry on?
Lindsay, I, too, have a family history like yours. My mother (currently battling her last recurrence of cancer since it's metastatic) had genetic testing done and is BRCA1 positive. My sister and I are not. We still consider having a preventative mastectomy done, however, since we are sick of cancer in our lives. I applaud your courage. Looking cancer dead in the eyes and saying, "You can't have these," is very brave.
You are very brave Lindsay. Congrats on making such a difficult choice so young.

As to the commentor who suggested it was a drastic choice, here are some throughts for you:
1. Frequent exams frequently fail. Young women have very dense breast tissue and exams can't always find a tumor.
2. Once they find a tumor it's already too late. While the lump may not be cancer, in someone with Lindasy's history it would not be surprising to find that it is. Then, not only you need a masectomy, but you'll need cancer treatment as well. The treatments make you very ill and this is part of what Lindsay wanted to avoid.
You are so brave! At a time when most women our age are so concerned with looks, you have looked beyond that and thought about your children and their children! Remain Blessed! You inspire me!

25yr old!
So are they just...gone? Is it possible for Lindsay to get implants?
Wow. This does seem drastic, but I guess makes sense given the family history. Still, I don't know if this kind of thing should be celebrated.
Good for you!! I went thru 3 surgeries, chemo and radiation 4 years ago due to Breast Cancer. Even removed my ovaries to stop production of most estrogen. Anything you can do to prevent the disease and a hideous year of your life is great!!!
Oh, to the anonymous poster who asked if this was drastic, how awful the way you phrased it. Couldn't you have been a little more delicate in your post?? That is not how it happened so why say it like that. I commend Lindsay for what she did, it had to take tremendous courage to go through with that. I don't think it was something she did on a whim either. If you read her story she has had every woman in her family experience cancer of the breast and she was a possible candidate for it. I wish her a lifetime of health and happiness.
Wow!

I find this story to be an example of the most amazing kind of courage imaginable. Lindsay obviously came from a very close and strong family and she also saw many of those closest to her go through an experience she didn't want to live through. I think this is an extraordinary woman who will be very successful in anything she chooses to accomplish.

I wish there were more women like her in the world who cared more about life and less about superficialities.

-Al Velasco
i find your story really inspiring, lindsay. i also have a genetic prodispositon for breast (and ovarian) cancer, and am going to have to start getting mammograms at a young age--i am only 25.

i wish you all the best! you are such a brave person.
I think you are very smart and brave Lindsay. The best defense is a strong offense. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I know people who have made the decision you have made. It's a good one.
If everybody in your family would have cataracts and would go blind when old, would you remove your eyes?
I understand your fear, but I think you did more harm than good to yourself.
You realize that cutting off your breasts wont change the genetic code that you pass down to your children, right?
"Isn't this move a little drastic?"

I can only imagine that you haven't had any loved ones experience a protracted fight against cancer.

Losing a non-vital body part is a small price to pay for a cancer-free life when you have the deck stacked against you as much as Lindsay did. Lindsay should be applauded for doing the smart thing.

The "benefit" of having breasts is HEAVILY OUTWEIGHED by the risk Lindsay faced of developing cancer.
Smart decision. Why live your life in fear?
You are out of your mind. Do you honestly believe that the only way to cure cancer is to have your breasts removed? You are going to feel like a total fool when you realize that you could have protected yourself from cancer despite what your genetic predisposition is.
To anonymous posting 9/25/07 at 7:24 p.m. -
What this woman did was make a well informed decision - not "a little drastic". It's alot drastic, of course - but you can't just rely on early detection for very high risk women. By the time you feel a lump or see something on a mammogram or MRI, the cancer might have already spread... not to mention you will have to deal with the chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and life long suppression drugs just to stave off any late recurrence. She has decreased her risk of breast cancer dramatically (unfortunately not by 100%, but by alot)... and she also has peace of mind. Cost of bilateral mastectomy? Thousands of dollars. Cost of Peace of mind and cancer free? Priceless.
A preemptive double mastectomy?

I agree with previous commenter that this is a little horrifying. I am curious as to how much counseling Lindsay had to undergo before she was allowed to have this elective surgery and if her insurance covered it.

Mass media is making our kids dumber by the day, let's not start endorsing this type of behavior.

Living with,dying of or surviving breast cancer can be done courageously. This was just plain precipitous and unnecessary.

I would like to hear from Lindsay in 3 years and see how she feels about this choice then.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago. She was 73. She was told she could undergo a lumpectomy and radiation and/or chemo or have her breast removed. Both of my mom's sisters had breast cancer, one died from it, the other died from complications related to dementia. My mom opted to have a mastectomy rather than risk anything. She wanted both breasts removed at the same time, but medicare would not pay for it. At 79, she continues to be cancer free and has yearly mammograms of her remaining breast. I am 49 and have yearly mammograms but I do live in fear to a degree. I don't know if I have a genetic predisposition to the disease or not but I have a daughter and granddaughter and that concerns me. God Bless you. I hope your message helps others.

Janet Landrum
Fulton, Missouri
Lindsay, You are so encouraging. I am 37 fighting breast cancer. I also took the test for the gene mutation and had decided if I was positive for the gene then I would do the same as yourself. Fortunatly I was negative but I can say since I am still in the fight of Breast Cancer this has been a horrible year for not only me but my family as well. I would never want anyone to ever have to go through and feel the way I do each day. If you can prevent it then I say go for it. You are an inspiration! Prayers are with you.

K
from NC
Dear Miss Avner,I certainly see your point in having the operation, but why not a breast augmentation to replace the maybe soon to be cancerous breasts that are now gone.
This is the most insane thing which I have ever heard of. This is self mutilation, plain and simple, and you people are lauding it?
There is a site known as BME, if I recall correctly, and we should possibly get this idiot a subscription to it. The site is full of body modifications, mutilations and such.
This 23 year old person is not someone to be celebrated, at all.
Rock on Girl.

I have the same situation. I am only 22 and in a few years I will be making the same move. It's very hard to get support, thanks for stepping up!!!
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lindsay, this is a great follow-up to the recent NYT article by Amy Harmon, which included a link to your organization. I received my BRCA results when I too, was 24 years old. I haven't had surgery yet (I am 30 now) though am happy to report that receiving breast MRIs and sonograms for my ovaries are standard of care. Can you please send an email to this anonymous person and help allay his/her fears?

You rock!

Sara
I hope this is not an ignorant question but how do you know that the cancer wont spread somewhere else if it cant go to your breasts?
HI Lindsay

Wow it sounds a bit radical but I don't walk in your shoes. I am a bit ignorant of the details. Is it possible to do this with no or little scarring and then replace the loss of tissue by impants?
Lindsay,

What an amazing, faith-filled decision you made. I'm not sure if I could make the same one. My only curisoty is if you will also have reconstructive surgery to make your breasts look natural. I belive if this was the case, maybe alot more women could make the same decision you made.
I think this is a terrible message to send to young people, especially with the moniker, "Young People Who Rock!"

There is not a test in the world that can tell this young woman if she will or will not have cancer. If she is a high risk, then she can get tested more frequently. It takes about an hour.

Otherwise, what's so special about someone so overcome with fear, that they cut off their body parts? This gal needs counseling, not praise.
Lindsay I just did the same thing at the age of 34. I went from having an 85% chance of breast cancer to below 5%. I'm still going through my reconstruction phase and will be finished in early Spring 2008. I don't regret my decision and admire anyone who has the courage to change their future. For those that think this is a drastic solution please understand that the only other option is waiting for cancer...that is not something I was willing to do.
Lindsay, I'm sure there is are good physical reasons why women have the breasts they do - and I don't mean breast feeding, which itself is important should you want to have children. I don't believe that genetics = destiny. And even if... what if they find a cure before your "destiny" comes around? I love my breasts and would never have them remmoved out of fear. Pre-emptive strikes are something our (not too bright) President condones. They don't make for peace - they simply destroy. I wish you all the best and hope you learn from what you have done.
Lindsay,

I think it's an awesome decision! You are not only protecting yourself but your future husband and children. I totally get it. I would do the same thing given your circumstances. Reconstruction wasn't mentioned, but with all the options for that, it wouldn't make sense to live every day in fear when you can head off serious illness and be as good as new in no time!...My thoughts and prayers are with you.
I'm truly stunned and horified by her decision. What and absolute slap in the face to women who actually have breast cancer. To give up healthy breast simply because you may get breast cancer is flat out stupid. Perhaps we should strike Iran because they might attack us someday. Maybe people with a family history of arthritus should have their arms amputated now. Makes sense, right?

I really feel sorry for CNN that they feel obligated to post this kind of junk "young people who rock" simply to get onboard with generation X.
My girlfriend Maureen P. is 24 now, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 23 years old. She had it in one of her breasts and decided to go for the double mastectomy. She also has several members of her immediate family who have battled breast cancer in the past.

I just want to let my girlfriend know that i am so proud of her for battling this disease face on and i know it is a struggle sometimes dealing with the pain, but I love you very much and will always be here to support you...
As a 46-year old woman who has undergone the same procedure, this is not a decision taken lightly. Unfortunatley, sometimes once you have cancer, it is too late. Prevention is key, otherwise, you spend your life wondering if you will get it, and if you will recover.
A drastic, but bold move to protect her own health and the well-being of her future family. My step-grandmother fought breast cancer 3 times, twice she went into remission. With a family history like Lindsey has I feel I would do the same, better to do it on your own schedule than wait until the bomb drops. The strain a drastic surgery like masectomy (or double) puts on a marriage is incredible.

What a brave, bold move Lindsey. I wish you continued health & happiness.
With all due respect for this young lady. I think that her decision was a bad one.
Science does predict things pretty well but a LOT of times science makes mistakes because it of incomplete understanding of things.
So trusting these doctors 100% with such a big decision is not wise in my opinion. I think the best thing to do in such a case as Avner's is to have frequent exams.
Lindsay,

I too am 23 and at a high risk. However, my medical coverage won't cover implants to replace my breasts. Are you going through the same thing? Are you getting reconstructive surgery? How does this work now?
I'm surprised a doctor even went along with this. Perhaps she is somewhat less likely to have cancer, but removing her breast hardly makes her KIDS less genetically likely to have breast cancer.
I applaud you in your brave decision. May you have a healthy and happy life.
I agree. I did the same thing. My sister has ovarian cancer and my mom had stomach cancer. Cancer runs in our family so I made the decision to have my ovaries removed last month. I think more women and men need help determine some of their destiny and mitigate risk!
this is a huge story and deserves more coverage than just this little snippet. for instance, did she have her breasts replaced with something else or just removed entirely? with all the press lately about so many women having a not so positive body image i wonder if that played a part at all in this womans decision. for any other woman considering an option like this, this story needs a lot more elaboration.
This article is disturbing to me, and maybe it is because im ignorant to medical fact. There are two main reasons it troubles me. First, to have the mindset that you are destined to the same fate as others is very defeatest. Rather you can and should think, I will be the first in my long family line not to suffer from this, and take care of yourself in positive ways to influence it. Second, why not have exams more than the required frequency (twice a year or whatever) rather than removing body parts. I just fail to see the remarkability of this action.
Just because you have your breast removed DOESN'T MEAN YOU WON'T GET CANCER. I come from a cancer filled family. Have it myself (lymphoma). A neice had the testing done. She came up negative and on her 25th birthday discovered a lump. She has since had a double mastectomy. She had a fast spreading strain. Her doctor recomemded a double because there were signs that it would come back. (presently doing very well). A sister of mine had a complete historectomy and five years later was told she had peritaneal cancer (cancer of the reproductive area) Go figure! So if anyone is considering the removal of parts as a preventative, they should double, triple rethink that decision. You can still get cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lindsay,

What a terrible decision you were faced with. Being a scientist, and having cancer in my family, I'm sure you were armed with good information and an up-hill battle to reach your final decision. People undergo plastic surgery and ply their bodies with all sorts of legal drugs (caffeine, alcohol, OTC medications) to change who they are. You are very brave to share your story.
Your BOLD and Beautiful. You've made a decision to live for your future and the future you'll share with a husband and children. Bravo
Some may not understand but I think you made a very logical choi ce. Your breast didn't define you they only threatened you. BRAVO
Lindsay - you are obviously the most courageous, brave and beautiful 23 year old I have ever read about. It is humbling to even read about you. I wish you so much happiness in your blessed life.
I not really sure what to think, I am a Man and I believe in heading all problems off at the pass. I truly belive in my heart that you made the best decision for you and your presentand future family. You are truly a hero in most peoples eyes and those are the one you need to surround yourself with. For the ones that have a negative opinion forget about them. I hope you have a LONG and blessed life....
I am a five-year survivor now facing recurrence. I only had the annual exams instead of the more frequent ones because my insurance won't cover more frequent ones. My surgeon recommended a lumpectomy. I am now getting the double mastectomy I wanted in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, if a double mastectomy is Lindsay felt would give her the best quality of life, then more power to her. Anyone who hasn't been in her shoes should count their blessings instead of moaning and groaning.
Anyone who has anything less than positive thoughts for this girl is just plain ignorant to the disease and shouldn't talk unless they have been thru it - ALL OF IT.... the chemo, radiation, surgeries, vomiting, baldness, wigs, pain, lack of sleep, lack of energy, looks of pity from everyone you know & don't know AND hundreds of needles in the arm.
AND even though you can still get it after a double mastectomy... the percentage is less than 3%.
Don't talk unless you speak from experience - no one has a CLUE!!!!
To Dan and all the other critics out there: it's HER BODY! She can do to it what she wishes and could care less about your thoughts. Good on you, Girl! Hope you made the right move in hopes of extending YOUR life!!! :) God bless you.
I am stunned by some of the comments here. This young woman took a very brave step when she found out she was at high risk of breast cancer. This isn't like preemptively striking Iran for fear they will attack us, and is nothing like having a limb removed because of the risk of arthritis. Breast cancer is often a FATAL disease. Lindsay made a choice to alter HER OWN body because of her increased risk of cancer.

People in this country need to get off their soapbox and stop telling other people what to do with their own bodies. Lindsay didn't want to live in fear so she did something about it. Good for you Lindsay. Best of luck in all you do.
What a difficult decision to make. But is it right to live in fear and have parts of your body removed over something that might happen? Cancer research has come a long way and admittingly it still has a long way to go. Perhaps supporting the research might have been another avenue. If this young lady ever did get that horrible desease perhaps there would be a cure. Although it was her decision, I cannot help but wonder if it was the right decision,
I would like to meet you and know you. You have shown courage and resolution that we all should admire.
to the people who think this is such a drastic decision you should know that it is more than a small chance that many women face. Some who have a family history such as her and the genetic predispostion they found in her blood it is 99% chance they will develop the cancer so I think this was a smart brave decision on her part and anyone who thinks differently needs to do research and understand think what you would do.
To me the idea of arbitrarily removing your breasts because you might get cancer or have a genetic pre-disposition towards cancer, yet not having any signs or symptoms of cancer, is very disquieting.

Removing your breasts to avoid the possiblity of cancer seems extreme and fear induced. It is not a solution, and it certainly is not a cure.

All the other considerations outside of health related issues..she will never be able to nurse her children, if she has any in the future. She will be self-conscious about her appearance and has to worry about what future a boyfriend/husband will think. What do you do for going to the beach or swimming? Like most of us who are far different and understand more at say 35, than we did at 23. What will she think of here decision then?

I think this is a very controversial post today, as evidenced by multiple posts of bloggers not being posted by moderator, as they are mostly negative reactions to this story. I hope the moderator forgets their own bias' and recalls the whole point of the blog is for other people's views and opinions..whether they are inline with the moderator or subject of their story.
God bless you, Lindsay. This was a brave decision and one that I hope and believe you will not regret having made. I also chose to have a bilateral mastectomy four years ago (I was 48 years old at the time), due to a strong family history of breast cancer. I do not regret my decision at all, and while there are no guarantees in life, I truly enjoy everyday knowing I have eliminated this issue in my life. May you enjoy many years of good health and happiness.
She will NOT be disfigured.... please realize that double mastectomy does not mean total lack of breasts anymore. There is no reason for feeling self conscious.
Reconstructive surgery has come a long way - she will have beautiful perky cancer free breasts!
in response to john - i hope lindsay now lives to see her children instead of dying prematurely from breast cancer.
Lindsay,
I am amazed by your strength, courage, maturity and unselfishness to now work on educating other women. Ovarian cancer runs in my family, and I'd rather live a healthy life, be careful and do what I can to prevent it, than always be worrying about a disease that's so difficult to diagnose in time. Keep up your good work, and take care.
Ok, so following this logic, if I had predisposition for testicular cancer, I should have.. Does seems a bit extreme to me
I too had a bilateral mastectomy due to a large lump which developed between screenings. While anyone can develop cancer at anytime and place, I feel that I have eliminated 1-type of cancer from my future. You can't imagine the relief felt after making such a decision. My marriage and family are much closer and stronger because of what we all went though; and now we don't "sweat" the small stuff. Congratulations to you for a very personal and thoughtful decision.
It isn't as simple as getting frequent examinations. Cancer doesn't just develop overnight. There's no guarantee that frequent exams will detect the cancer on time for treatment to be effective. Also, women with this gene have a 50% chance of developing OVARIAN cancer, which is often FATAL and RARELY detected early. "Lopping off" the breasts is not a decision that is made lightly. I encourage you to do some more research before judging.
I am a 71 year old breast cancer survivor (at least for 3 1/2 years). One of the sadder things I got to experience while I was having treatment was a younger woman who had had a double mastectomy when cancer was found in one breast and 6 or 7 years later was diagnosed with a different form of cancer. Having unnecessarily removing a healthy breast did not keep her from getting a life-threatening cancer in another part of her body. Not to say Ms. Avner will get cancer but there are no guarnatees in this life. Also, she should know that having her breasts removed does not removed the genetic predisposition to breast cancer. So the possibility/probability of passing this on to her potential children still exists and at exactly the same level.
While I honor her courage, I have mixed emotions regarding what she has done. My first child, at the age of 8 months, was diagnosed with Liver Cancer. We went through seeral months of therapies and surgeries. While we were terrified at the thought of our next children having cancer, we never thought an option would have been to have a liver transplant done for them to hopefully prevent their own diagnosis.

I am not sure her decision makes sense, but I am also not a womand facing what she has already faced.
why could you not wait until after
you had children so you could give
them a great start in life by
breastfeding them if you keep them healthy?
This may seem like a stupid question, but can she get breast implants??
It is incredibly brave of you to take such a stand for your own your body and your own future. Despite whether people think this is right or wrong, the greatest part is that women are allowed to freely make this choice about their own lives. If you don’t believe it’s the right choice for you, don’t do it. But don’t put people down for making this decision. Breasts do not make a woman and do not have to define them either. I am 23 and after watching my father die of cancer when I was young I would make the same choice as you made to protect my future family.

Good luck with your organization, Lindsay. I wish you a long and healthy life.
That's a pretty drastic measure to take to prevent cancer, but I must applaud you for it, Lindsay.

Also, to the person who asked WWJD? I'm pretty sure Jesus would do nothing, since he doesn't have breasts. Take your preaching elsewhere. I don't think this girl is trying to make herself a martyr; rather, she is trying to raise awareness and she sets a good example for young women in the same position. You should be ashamed of yourself for invoking religion for the purpose of insulting someone.
How profound your actions are on SO many levels! I am truly impressed by what You have done. I am a male and really never could understand why the world operates on such a shallow level. Males and females alike focus on how large or small a ladys breast size is. It's really discusting how people move forward or get left behind due that. I understand that your motivation was to not let breast cancer take your life. What true GUTS you have!! The world would be a better place with more people like You in it!!
This was not a wise thing to do. Some people have called this act brave. I do not believe self mutilation with no medical purpose is brave. I think this is an act full of irrational fear and twisted attention seeking. No woman among my friends would say that this "Rocks". In fact everyone I have forwarded this to says it is very disturbing. Young women should read this and listen to their natural reaction, revulsion.
“Muerto el perro se acaba la rabia.” … Mujer fantastica.
I won’t be surprised if you decide to adopt sweet kids.
May God bless you; I bet your kids will be something else too.
I already envy the man who you will love.
I am very disturbed by the hostility towards Lindsay. I doubt that if she had chosen to remove something less tied to the idea of femininity, like her appendix, that anyone would care.

As a young breast cancer patient, I completely understand her decision. Of course breasts can be reconstructed, and the only thing she won't be able to do is breast feed. That, versus the chance to reduce her extremely high risk of disease, makes her decision very rational.

And no, breast cancer CANNOT always be detected in time. Aggressive genetic cancer has a nasty habit of metastasizing (spreading) very quickly, sometimes before before a primary tumor is large enough to be detected. And even if a cancer is detected at stage I or II, there is still a 20% death rate.

And for those of you who don't know, there is still no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Those women whose cancer was resistant to current therapies will die of their disease.

Given Lindsay's genetic predisposition, she absolutely made a rational decision. I have the deepest disdain for those of you who value a woman's breasts more than her life. Shame on you all.
I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this article. Lindsey's decision was exactly that...her decision. However, removing your breasts does not mean you will never get breast cancer. And being so young, she will miss out on the wonderful bonding experience of breastfeeding her children. I pray that she never comes to regret this drastic decision made at such a young age.
I find this decision by Lindsay to be misguided. My mother's side of the family is predisposed to cancer - she had lung (later went to the brain), her father had throat, her half brother had throat, her half sister had breast, her other half brother had lung. So tell me, should I go and have my breasts removed or arbitrarily get radiation treatment as a preemptive strike?

A friend of mine died of leukemia, his father had brain tumor, his mother had breast cancer and so did his mother's sister. He knew he had a high chance of getting some type of cancer, he just didn't know what or when.

With cancer you never will know when and where it will show up. Just because Lindsay's mother, grandmother, aunts, cousins, great grandmother had breast cancer doesn't necessary mean she will have breast cancer...now that those breasts are gone she will probably get it somewhere else in her body and she can still pass it on to her children.

If there is strong history in the family, chances of getting it will be high no matter where it will show.

Living with cancer is not easy, but it doesn't mean you can't fight it with dignity...I was there with my mother ever step of the way and it wasn't easy. It was a 9 yr battle.

I know that there is a high probability that I could get cancer too given my family history, but that doesn't mean I'm going to live in fear of it.

If anything I'm appalled that the doctor even went along with this!
Was it hard to 'give up' your breasts? You are now admired by many for your courage!!!
"Isn't this move a little drastic?

Can't Lindsay get exams very frequently instead of lopping off her breasts? Please clarify, because i'm a little horrified by this peice.
Posted By Anonymous :September 25, 2007 7:24 AM ET"

Sure she could have had exams, but why wait to have cancer. So then not only would she have breast surgery, but then chemo and radiation treatment. She did something to save her life, I'm sure it was not an easy thing for her. If I had known that at the age of 34 I would have breast cancer, I would have done the same thing if given that choice, but I wasn't... I'm 4 years "cancer free", everyday I fear that it wasn't caught in time and it will appear somewhere else in my body.

((Lindsay))

Angie California
Lindsey, I am proud of you! Two years ago at age 40 I made the same decision (bilateral mastectomy) when I was diagnosed with invasive cancer in the left breast 8 months after my son was born. My mother had died 3 years earlier from breast cancer complications. My mother was determined to preserve her breasts. I took the opposite route. I had three years of clean mammograms under my belt when my nipple started bleeding. The tests just didn’t pick it up. And so began my journey. I was determined to aggressively run right at the disease instead of running from it. People were amazed by my positive attitude and willingness to learn all I could about my options. I would have given up every limb and more in order to increase the chances that I might spend even one more day with my baby boy. I will, "Be Brilliant. Be Bold. Be Bright Pink." Thank you for the inspiration!
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I wonder if you haven't gone a bit too far. As others have noted, cancer research, especially that for breast cancern, continues to make important strides. Who knows where we could be in 20 years? Also, given your predisposition to cancern, isn't it possible you could have cancer affect other parts of the body/organs? That said, I do admire the strength and courage it takes to make such a profound decision. Good luck and stay healthy.
To the poster who said she had a 99% chance of developing breast cancer because of the gene test...It is quite obvious you made up your numbers. I have researched this topic a few months ago when a cousin of mine in the medical field brought it up to my mom (a breast cancer survivor) because she wanted to take this measure for herself in the even that my mom tested positive. After the reseach I did, and the talking to my doctor about it I came to the conclusion that it wasn't for me, even though there is a family history (also my aunt). Read the fact sheet about this gene testing at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

You will see that this test is not a 100% test on anything. Just because you have the gene, doesn't mean you will develop cancer, and just because you are free of the gene, doesn't mean that you wont get it either.

And as many people have mentioned already, who knows what science will discover in time.
I am SHOCKED that people are criticizing Lindsay for her decision. If she is BRCA 1 positive, she has something like a 40% to 50% chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime. Given what she has undoubtedly watched her family members go through, I can fully understand her decision. She has made a choice to reduce greatly the chance that she will not be around for HER children and grandchildren.
The number of people who criticize this decision on the basis that it is 'disfiguring' is appalling. Women get breast augmentation surgeries regularly, but noone in this forum seems to have any qualms with this type of 'disfigurement.' If our society has sexualized and objectified women to the point that they cannot make well-informed decisions about removing their breasts (not the same as above-mentioned testicles or uteri) without criticism and disgust, we are in need of serious introspection.
To everyone who is judging this woman, get over it. This is her body, and her choice, and it affects no one negatively. I commend her choice to not live in fear. Yes, there may be other cancer, but at least there will not be the one she was extremely predisposed to get. Good for you, Lindsay!
3 years ago (at age 18), I had a small benign tumor removed from my right breast. Although the amount of tissue removed only included one breast duct and a bit of surrounding tissue, the entire experience was completely traumatic. Recently, I have been experiencing symptoms that another tumor may have formed in another breast duct. This means more surgery, and more emotional distress.

Breast cancer does not run in my family. In fact cancer does not run in my family at all. Even though these tumors of mine are benign, it is still terrifying.

All this being said, I cannot imagine what it is like to have both of my breasts completely removed. The amount of courage you have leaves me in awe. Your breasts are one of the most personal parts of your body and of your womanhood. I am simply amazed.
It seems as though some people are more concerned about Lindsey losing her breasts than Lindsey is! Grow up! Realize that the concern isn't about intimacy, or lack thereof. It's about her being around when she is ready to get married! It's about her not dying before her children are raised! The idiots are the ones on this blogger talking about how nobody cares about this girl! Apparently you DO care, or you wouldn't have commented! You DO care, or you wouldn't have read this story! People need to realize that what this girl did is AWESOME! "WWJD? my butt!" The bible states that we should not live or die in vain. This girl has a garaunteed pass into Heaven's gates if she lives her life anything like her actions have shown.
To those of you that think she'll have perfect paid for breasts; take your ignorance to a more deserving forum. There is nothing normal about reconstructed breasts. Reconstructive surgery gives survivors/previvors the opportunity to have a mild semblance of what they had before.
Please have enough respect to know what you're talking about before criticizing someone else.
To the person who said "No human being lives forever, dear. You are no God to play Savior. WWJD?"--guess what? Lindsay DOES get to play play God with her own body; it is hers to decide how she treats it. Whether she tattoos or pierces it and whether she chooses to carry out each pregnancy or to remove her breasts at 23, it is HERS. Good luck to you, Lindsay!
Hot topic.

In the current state of medicine, it is possible to procure certain sorts of information.

The "controversial" question is, once you have the information, what do you do about it?

Some of you say, "do nothing."

"Do nothing" is pretty tricky.

Breast cancer is a top killer of young women under the age of 45. We are not "inconvenienced" by breast cancer. Many of us die, and die soon from it.

Those who don't die immediately have the opportunity to die later... a long, slow, painful and "courageous" death.

I would personally prefer to live like a coward than die "courageously." (Key word being, "live.")

My insurance (and many others) pays for prophylaxis for people who have a high risk of breast cancer.

This implies that someone, somewhere believes that breast removal is a "practical" solution for some people.

Lindsay has "chosen" to be "practical."

I am certain that she has made this choice at great cost.

She will be the one who bears the consequence. It is probable that her parents, and certainly, her doctors, support her decision.

I don't think that HER mental status is in question.

Tammy Lou (Young Breast Cancer Patient)
I am amazed at Lindsay's courage!
I am male and I have seen family members diagnosed with a variety of cancers including my mother-in-law had a double mastecomy 3 years ago as a result of being diagnosed with brest cancer. To the commenters who think she has done a terrible thing, I am sorry you feel that way. To the individual who said, "Ok, so following this logic, if I had predisposition for testicular cancer, I should have.. Does seem a bit extreme to me"
You bet I would. What part of "non-essential body part" did you not undersrand?
Apparently some of you have never seen a loved one go through the excruciating pain that is chemotherapy.
For all of you who say she is a fool or stupid or is playing God - Shame on you.
We all have choices, and we hope and pray that we or no one we love is stricken with ANY disease.
If I felt that I had a 90% chance of getting killed by getting in a car, I would never have gotten in a car. Ever. You tell me that there is a 90% chance of being in pain and agony for weeks or months, or a 5% chance if I have a somewhat radical surgery that I have a 80% chance of recovering (50% better chance since I am healthy at the time of the surgery) and I can get a replacement for what was removed?
I have had knee pain for years. I would go for knee replacement tomorrow if I could find a Dr. that would do it, and I AM ONLY 36!
And for those of you who think it is self-mutilation - This is not piercing a toungue or navel, not a tattoo or scarification, this is a possibly life or death deciscion.
For each of you who still thinks this was a bad idea, think of this: would you want your child just give up, or would you want them to fight - tooth and nail, for the very life you gave them?
If my wife were to be determined to be a member of the high risk group that is positive for the BRCA genes, then I would stand by her, no matter what her descion.

Lindsay - you made a tough choice and I think you did the right thing. You are a fighter.

JC in Nashville, Tennessee
That's amazing.
While it may certainly seem that breast cancer research has made huge strides, I wonder how many people know of the different types there are, and how far there is to go before eradicating it? To her detractors I say if you knew about the disease then I doubt you would offer Lindsay anything other than support.
And for those who say get frequent exams, its SO HARD to get taken seriously for breast cancer when you are a young woman, plus some types are extremely fast growing - trust me, as a BC patient at 26 I was ignored until it was too late.
When faced with DEATH as an actual event not some abstract concept, you do anything you can to survive it, put it off, prevent it. So concern about appearance doesnt tend to figure highly. I wear my battle scars proudly, and I hope Lindsay does too.
And as for WWJD? - Jesus didnt have breasts, so I doubt it would much concern him.
Lindsay, your story will be with me as an inspiration for the rest of my life.

People, this woman took a hard look at the cards she had been dealt and then made a powerful and context-stretching play. Her standing is now the one for which she bargained, and the one with which she changes the world and will be changed by it.

People have spoken here speculating on eventualities that the future may bring, but all are irrelevant. All futures are unknowable, and the moments of consequence and judgement are our decisions in how to approach those futures, and Linsday has decided with an incredible strength of spirit.

All decisions are games of wagers and Lindsay was immersed in one with stakes higher than anything that most of us will ever face in a lifetime. She has met the dealer's gaze with strength and a soul of steel, and as such it is against her that we will be compared and lauded or broken accordingly and not the other way around, as so many seem to imply.
I was wondering if she took the route to remove her breasts now when they are healthy could she have just had implants placed in so at least she could perhaps have some nice breasts if she wanted? Just a thought... I am sure she is a loving beautiful person either way.
So, going by this logic, it's a courageous thing to preemptively remove body parts that could develop cancer?

It seems like the people defending her decision are interpreting it as a certain measure against certain cancer, when that's not the case. She could still get cancer, just like she might not have gotten it had she not undergone extraneous "preventative" surgery. There's a difference between prevention and paranoia, and the idea that she's "giving up your femininity" does not change that.
Avner is a brave, intelligent, young woman; an inspiration and a role model for every age.
Way to make some moves, and lead by example. You are a true testament!
At 35, I too found myself in the same postion and chose a prophylactic double mastectomy. Fifteen years later, I have NEVER regretted my decision. My husband and friends love me no matter what... Your breasts do not define you as a person, but choosing to remove them...How Powerful! And for all those naysayers... Yes, you may die of cancer, but you are going to go down with some fight! Remember, NEVER doubt your decision because the first step towards a healthy, full life is a healthy attitude. Good for YOU!
It is horrible how people who are not in this woman's shoes can be so critcal with so much conviction.

One poster said something in regards to her not waiting until she after she has children so she can breast feed them? If this disease invaded her body she may never have children due to medications, the disease itself or just choice. She owes it to herself to do whatever she feels is best for her life.

Everyone can post negative comments or judgemental comments but the end she has to live with her own decisions...Because we can give our opinion and then log off our computer and go back to our lives..but she has to live in the constant fear of this horrible disease invading her body.

I look at it as her taking pro active steps to try to cut down her chance of getting this horrible disease... Just as a person who vaccinates themselves against something...It's just a more drastic measure of doing so.

My mother had breast cancer 25yrs ago and now has a new cancer in her other breast had she had a bilateral mastectomy she would not have had to have a mastectomy twice which is what happen...

Her Life...Her Choice.... I applaud you Lindsay..

signed a breast cancer survivor diagnosed age 28.....
What a brave woman you are. I work in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery and find myself thinking of having the testing. For those people who feel she should not have done this, I encourage you to sit with the families who are going through this. They are the true heroes here. There are more women now doing this testing and prophylactically having masectomies. At least science has gotten to the point that we can have the option to have testing if we are at high risk. You go girl. You rock!!!
It's rather humbling hearing a story like this, especially about a young woman. The ones I know act as if deciding what to wear is a momentous dilemma, let alone figuring out where to go to dinner, what movie to see, how they feel, etc. - you might as well ask them to find the corner of a circle.

But reading the decision Avner made, my initial reaction is "whoa." If I as a man were faced with a different but similar choice, I doubt I could take such radical action no matter how long I thought about it. It's very humbling that there's a woman my age who's that strong. I don't presume to know anything about her, but if I had to guess I'd say the people who know her are lucky.
Does this operation reduce Lindsay's chances to cancer to zero? Is she suseptable to other kinds of cancer?
Gutzy move. Lindsay!
Sadly, I see no bravery here, only fear.

As a 32-yr. old woman who lost my mom to ovarian cancer, I would have to strongly agree with Dan who found this shocking and defeatist. Along with my mom's cancer, my aunt has had breast cancer, my first cousin and my grandmother all had cancer, as well. Yet I have no intention of presuming what will happen to me in this life. I have already experienced loss - why volunteer for more?

This very young woman will at some point in her life realize that her life is not in her hands. She has not guaranteed that she will not have cancer in her own body, only that she has done the most drastic thing possible to try avoid it.

This is a decision based in fear, instead of trust in the One who gives us our very next breath.

There is a good God who is sovereign and loving, though we may not understand Him.
Way to go. Be strong and ignore those who doubt what you did. You made a choice and like all choices not everyone will agree. However, they will not have to live like you might have had to live. Good job!
To those that are saying this is too drastic, you really have to understand the science and the medicine behind what she did. This wasn't a slight chance she would develop cancer -- it would have be unusual if she hadn't.

Just because it was a horrifying choice doesn't make it the wrong one. She made a choice so that she and those around her are less likely to suffer in the future. It's a selfless act.
Hey there. I respect the right everyone has to have, and state, his or her own opinion(s), thoughts, and feelings. However, I feel any and all of these hold more weight (with me, at least) when they are expressed in a constructive manner. I'm not certain what I would do in this situation, but I am grateful there are options, including the choice this brave and courageous young lady made. I respect courage, bravery, deep thinking, being proactive and helping others - regardless of whether or not I agree with a specific action or not. For those reasons alone, I do feel Lindsay rocks. Personally, I feel she made the RIGHT choice - for her. As to those who say - how will she feel in four years, or when she wants to marry or when she has children or starts regretting possibly having no breasts and not being attractive to others or maybe even to herself ... I believe she now has a much better chance to find out how she will feel in three years or five or ten or you know, hopefully in fifty and beyond - because of what she did FOR HERSELF. Giving herself a better chance and a longer and more productive life. Something most of us strive to do all of the time, or at least, claim to. I am more likely to see Ms. Avner's personal choice as a good one for reasons I won't enumerate on as many have made very valid points in her favor already and quoted many statistics to back these up. Just wanted to wish you, Lindsay, and yours, the very best. Jessica L. in Atlanta, GA
Lindsay Avner is an incredible woman on so many levels... She is truly a Beautiful, Intelligent, & Powerful Woman.

What women, just like Lindsay, give to this world is more than the world could ever do without. I've learned that a woman will do, what most men can't, or simply won't. It's an incredible realization that although we've been taught that men are stronger, what my mother has taught me and what many women have shown me, is that women lead lives that require ten times the strength of men, stronger lives, much more relevant, significant & meaningful lives... ten times more loyal, loving and luminous.

Lindsay, you deserve every good thing in Life.

- Keith G. Wright, AintNoJoke.com, Miami, Fla.
I'm rather appalled by the level of ignorance exhibited by many of the commenters here.

I fail to see why this young woman should have refrained from taking action to preserve her health simply because some people are appalled by the idea of a "mutilated" woman, or because others think that this will, in some way, affect her ability to bond with children she may not even decide to have.

Yes, we all die. But if the choice is between dying young of something preventable, even by "drastic" measures, or gaining an extra decade or two, I know which I would pick.

And in the long run, what I would or would not choose to do in her situation is irrelevant. She made the best decision she could, based on available information, and based on what is best for her. None of us has the right to second-guess that, or tell anyone else what they should and should not be allowed to do with their body.
I am galled that anyone would suggest that Lindsay is anything but strong, brave, and admirable. It sounds like just about every woman in her family has dealt with or died from breast cancer, so it's more than just a "good chance" - it sounds more like "near certainty." Watching her family go through it, particularly her own mother, is hard enough without asking her to take the risk, and for what? So she can "look like a normal woman?" So she can breastfeed? What backwards priorities... I find such suggestions to be cruel.

Do commenters seriously not realize how hard of a decision this had to be, especially at 23, that she knows the weight of her decision, and that her doctors would never have "removed healthy tissue" if it didn't make sound preventative sense? Even frequent breast exams can miss tiny lumps, hidden by the milk ducts, which can grow and metastasize.

Lindsay, you are inspiring.
Lindsey, I applaude you and your strength to take control of your life and your body in any way you can. I think it very noble that you are trying to raise awareness about this horrible disease.

To the person that said "And being so young, she will miss out on the wonderful bonding experience of breastfeeding her children." My mother was unable to breastfeed me because she wasn't producing enough milk. Does that mean I will never have the bond my other three sisters do becasue they were breastfed? Many people choose not to breastfeed for personal or medical reasons. If Lindsey chose to remove her breasts in an attempt to prolong her life, more power to her!
Lindsay,

You have been so brave to do this--I don't know if I'd have had the courage to do this! My family also has the predisposition for breast cancer, and I'm planning on getting myself tested as well.

I cannot believe that some people who have posted here are so completely ignorant and stupid that they're condemning you for doing this. And those of you who are condemning her for doing something "against God's will"... Why would God give ANY person such a horrible disease? You sound stupid, backwards and downright mean.

Lindsay, from your photo I can tell you are a very pretty girl, but now I can tell that you're gorgeous both inside and out. I'm so glad you did something to care for yourself, your health, and any future spouse/children you may have. Having someone in your family with cancer is devastating, especially when it gets to the point where there's nothing medicine can do for it. I don't know if you want to have children or not, but your future husband is going to be one hell of a lucky man to have a woman with a strong will and a good head on her shoulders!

I also want to thank you, Lindsay. You made me proud to be a woman today.
May you sleep well at night knowing that you have done all that you can do to prevent yourself from getting breast cancer Lindsay. I applaud you. Your peace of mind and your continued health are the most important things.

As a breast cancer survivor I strongly understand your decision. You are a very brave person and I am sure that you made this decision after much deliberation and soul searching. It is a very personal decision. May you have a wonderful life.

I am very saddened by the ignorance that is evident in these posts. It just reinforces the need to have articles such as this. I encourage people to ask questions respectfully.

However ....

Is there anything worse than someone who is opinionated about something they know very little about?

Truly ask yourself if you are informed enough to pass jugment on such a personal decision. Cancer is very complicated. A little research from a reputable source is in order.

Until then ..... SSSSHHHHH ... you are making a fool of yourself.

Nixter
I am absolutely disgusted by many of the negative comments. Especially Dan's condescending remarks (I just love men who think they're qualified to issue pronouncements to women what they should and shouldn't do with their bodies), Amy and the first Anonymous's pushing their religious beliefs down other people's throats, and the "lactivists" who feel the need to inject their agenda everywhere and anywhere.

It *is* Avner's body. It *is* up to her to decide what to do with it. Amy, if you want to "turn your life over" to $DEITY, feel free, but don't expect the rest of us to, especially those of us who are unbelievers.

And, as someone else remarked, it's disgusting to see so much more value placed on four pounds of fat and ducts than on a full human being. In the year 2007, women are still primarily considered as sex objects and mothers...not as people in their own right.

Lindsay, I am in awe of you.
As a woman diagnosed when 30 years old, no family history and no BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene, I find what Lindsay did to be well educated and informed decision. I had a NON INVASIVE form of cancer and my only option, from several opinions, was to have a mastectomy. Lindsay did what was best for her mind, body and soul. She will have piece of mind that breast cancer will not find refuge in her body. I applaud you Lindsay!
Your body, your choice, your life.
Brava, Lindsey, for making the choice that was right for you. Ignore the naysayers and live your life according to your own lights.
I am glad she did what she had to do to make sure she wouldn't have breast cancer. Living your own life is more important then perhaps not living it at all for something you will definitely get. However the fact that she will have children perhaps, will still pass this on to her own children. However it is her choice. At least this way her own children won't be orphaned. This was her choice, not anyone else's, and she did what she thought was right. There is nothing mentally wrong with her for doing so. I cheer her own personally for doing so.
I guess it takes someone who has been there and survived breast cancer to fully appreciate Lindsay's decision. Life is much more precious than a set of boobs, when they give you up to 85% chance of cancer and at a younger age.
This, to me, seems like the not-so-smart approach to fighting cancer.

If she has a predisposition to cancer then there is a chance she could get cancer anywhere in her body. And, as another poster mentioned, *if* she did get breast cancer 20 years down the road then there is a possibility we might already have a cure.

This seems like a desperate act of someone overly fearful of death. Not so much an act of bravery than that of naivety.
Cancer is as much a reality as it is humans accountability to understand it and finding a cure. This is a prime example of misplaced priorities by those who can make a difference. The USA should instead of wasting $12B/month on senseless war figthing poor countries, focus on technology for curing ageold human sickness. When priorities were set, humans walked on the moon in 10ys, why not cure cancer? What a shame - what a tradegy.
Johannesburg
South Africa
You rock. Thank you for being responsible. You will make a good mother, you care, you take resonsiblity and you take action. Long life to you
Faith RN
What a beautiful soul.
As a Christian physcian, breast cancer researcher and breast cancer oncologist, I cringe at how people who believe in the same God that I do, try to bring God or religion into the equation--especially the bloogger who states that this woman should just "trust" God.

This women made an informed decision based on 2007 modern day medicine--nothing more, nothing less. If this was 1886, then yes, she would simply have to rely on God and hope for the best, with the knowledge that many of her family had died from breast cancer and she would likely (50% chance) develop breast cancer and die. However, this is not 1886, and fortunately, God has blessed us with scientific discoveries that inform us of what to do.

Bottom line, if you don't carry the BRCA1 mutation, then your risk for developing breast cancer is the same as the general population If you carry this mutation, you have an exceedingly high risk of developing breast cancer (80-90% risk). If you undergo prophylactic mastectomy, you reduce the risk to almost zero.

Does that mean this woman won't die...absolutely not. She may die crossing the street

Does it mean that she now won't die of breast cancer at a young age...very likely.

So, remember to trust God for your salvation---something that man cannot accomplish, but remember that God has graciously given us scientific and medical knowledge that informs us of what to do in our every day lives, something that this young woman is not ignorant of.
I am concerned that this measure is being called "preventative". I also have the breast cancer gene, along with losing my father to the devestating disease when he was 29. When I was 26, I had to have a Hystorectomy, due to cancer. But would never condone removing my breasts to prevent any further cancer. Instead of running from a fate that God may or may not give me, I choose to live my life cancer free. When and if the time comes, I will deal with breast cancer. I do not feel that this is a good way to tell the other generations to protect themselves from breast cancer. Prevention can come from healthier living, and safer livestyles, not from such drastic measures, as removing your breasts. If your destined for cancer, you are destined. And to those who applaud her for protecting her children... these people need to understand she is protecting them from nothing. They are just as likely to develop breast cancer. Should her daughters remove their breasts as teens. What is she teaching our daughters to do? Embrace their lives, or run from them.
Boy, this subject really brings the trolls and cretins out of the woodwork. To all those judging so harshly. . . get informed about BRCA and the agony women go through in making this decision. The choice is done not simply to prevent cancer, but to prevent treatments that SEVERELY compromise a woman's quality of life. Losing your breasts and replacing them with implants is nothing compared to the impact on your quality of life being forced to live without estrogen because you've had a previous cancer. And screening is at best only about 75% accurate, plus there are false positives and the fear and pain/scarring from biopsies that go with that.

Furthermore, to those that are criticizing her for wanting children and "passing this on" : be aware that a) there is only a 50% chance her children will inherit this mutation b) EVERYONE has mutations, many of them deleterious and c) progress enough is being made in the fields of genetics, oncology, molecular biology etc. that by the time our children are old enough to be affected by the disease, there should be far less "drastic" and far more effective treatment and detection options available than for our generation.

I am not quite sure whether I personally am going to opt for a mastectomy, but absolutely respect and admire Lindsay's decision.

And to the "Christian" judging her. . . maybe you need to read your New Testament a little more closely. . . you are doing a disservice to Christ.
I think you made a Brave and good decision in trying to prevent cancer all though I still think its to drastic. Doctors always misdiagnos, but I wish you the best of luck and may god be with you.
I am a man and cannot empathize with you completely the situation...but what I can see is bravery to look at the problem right in the eye and face it.

I know the pain and suffering from a very close friend of mine...you made the right choice. No doubt about it...although some consequences might bother you for the rest of your life....it is still worth it.

Definitely your act is very commendable; and God bless you with Good Life & an understanding life partner.

Good Luck!!!

NJ-Manny
I think it's funny that many of these comments are about Lindsay's "potential children." I'm sure that she considered the impact of her decision on any children she might have, as obviously she won't be able to breastfeed and obviously she might still pass on the gene. She may also plan to NOT have children--not everyone has to have children.

I also think that if you have any understanding of how genetics work, you will not be able to critcize her decision. If every woman in her family has had breast cancer, she almost certainly will, too. And that small percent chance that she WON'T get it is not worth the risk. Now, while she might get another form of cancer, it will be by chance and unrelated to breast cancer. If I were in her situation, I would do the same thing.
I find some of the comments on here, made mostly by men, extremely juvenile and small-minded. To suggest that Lindsay will never find someone who finds her attractive is laughable. I realize many men imagine breasts speak and are living things, but they're not. If she chooses to get reconstructive surgery, ON HER OWN TERMS, good for her! If she chooses not to get implants, ON HER OWN TERMS, again, good for her.

I personally find it sickening that many of the comments on her are only relating to the aesthetic aspect of a woman's body. Lindsay, hopefully if you read these comments, you will understand which men to avoid in your dating arena. There are MANY men out there, some whom I am lucky enough to know, who would not reject a woman based on her breasts, or body, etc. Let these men come to the surface of the apparently "shallow" pool of superficial chauvinistic men.

Your body, your choice. <3 to the cancer survivors and all women who take an active role in their health and well-being.
It is the gene that matters, it passes from one to other generation. so this crude way of fighting the disease does not help in preventing the gene passing through, nor it prevents its probable expression in next generation. I think we need proper genetic screening, regular test, preventing measure, early diagnosis and more research to fight the disease. I dare to think all women cutting the breasts of in fear and telling their husband that they are bold. I sincerely recognise her fear but do not agree to the way she goes.
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Wow, that is courageous! What came to my own mind was--how in the heck did she find a doctor that would not only test for such a thing, but do this surgery. Around here, the several docs I've been to scoff the possibility of doing a blood test (ovarian runs in my fam). They view that as science fiction. Anyway, good for you! Smart!
My sister in alw had both breasts removed after being diagnosed in her 30's. No one thinks any less of her because she doesn't have breasts. To even suggest implantation to this young lady is ridiculous. She doesn't need breasts to be a strong, courageous, wonderful young lady. God bless!!!
If you feel that cancer was inevitable, then I support your decision 100% and then some. You Rock!!



-g-
Drastic? yes. Courageous? oh hell yes. Cant imagine the thought process that led her to this action but a woman that strong needs to be repected and probably feared.
I have never heard of a woman like you. You are the bravest. God bless you and keep up the good work.
Most of the comments so far reflect a grave concern about removing this tissue because it happens to be a "breast." I think this comes from some sort of unspoken taboo among women that breasts are the primary tool of attraction. I know I speak for many men in disagreeing with that assumption. I applaud this beautiful lady in taking the bull by the horns and getting this likely foe out of the way.

That said, how about a date?
My cousin's daughter died at age 28 from breast cancer. She left 2 young children and a husband who miss her very much. Besides, it automatically filters out all the jerks that only care about anatomy. Way to go Lindsay!
Lindsay is very brave to have taken action given her family history and results of her genentic testing. Women with BRACA1 and BRACA2 are also increased risk for ovarian cancer. Some women even undergo prophylactic ovary removal after childbearing years to decrease their risk. September is Ovarian Cancer awareness month, we hear a lot about breast cancer (rightly so) but women should also educate themselves about ovarina cancer as well.
To all the naysayers:

Breasts do not a woman make. Her heart & soul, her desires, fears, hopes, and dreams... those are who Lindsay is.

Why bother with breast implants when there are plenty of guys out there that do not like breasts and admire other physical qualities of a woman? Or better yet... there are guys out there who will value a woman who is proactive and concerned for not only her future, but his and their potential children?

To say that she has "mutilated" her body is hogwash. She - with professional medical assistance - has taken preventative measures to drastically reduce the chances of being handed an almost certain death sentence. Just because some of you would not do the same does not mean that you should belittle this young woman for making such a difficult decision to improve her quality of life. The quality of life that will come to her with less worrying and more fulfillment, as she can use her experiences with her family members to educate other young women about the importance of breast cancer awareness.
I'm pretty sickened by the negative comments. Why do you value a woman's breasts more than her LIFE?
I think what many people are forgetting is that this young woman is not defined as a woman b ecause she has breasts. People sit here and judge her actions as wrong, citing Christ and playing God, and her actions are not about that.
Being predisposed to cancer means yes you're looking at one of them 'getting you'. In Lindsay's case she has a pretty good idea what the women in her family have to look forward to. You can be pretty sure that she would have gotten breast cancer at one point in her life, and yes, there is the possibility of another cancer attacking her body at some point, but at least she has eliminated the possibility of a cancer that more women die from than they survive .
Oh and one thing I think everyone has forgotten(except I think men), Lindsay can have implants and look just as she did before.
You are amazing!! This article gave me chills and brought tears.
Kudos to Lindsay! What an incredible decision. A good decision I might add! Anyone who questions her action doesn't understand breast cancer and/or hasn't experienced it.
Obviously it is her choice, but an extremely drastic one. She mutilated her self based on chance. Again, her choice, but I certainly wouldn't choose her to be a "hero". I don't really think it's the kind of message I would want to send to young women. I would rather promote a message of awareness (like we are doing), and maybe even set up some sort of organization that will promote women's health in poorer communities.
I've been through breast cancer. I had a clear mammogram 2 months before I found the lump. After surgery there was 6 months of heavy chemo, endless doctor appointments, nausea, weakness, no hair, trying to hang on to a job, thank heavens for action-oriented supportive friends, angst for my family and friends, 3 years of recovering my strength, and 5 years of dealing with the side effects of tamoxifen. I did not choose reconstructive surgery, it is another major trauma to the body, which I decided should be reserved for facing life threatening necessiity. Anyone who doesn't love you because you have no breasts simply doesn't deserve you. Your choice was hard, and your choice alone. Our society is too caught up in the idea that appearances are the basis for attractiveness. Nobody has the right to judge your choice, except you. Those of you who are horrified by this young woman's choice have probably never been through the treatment required to conquer cancer. Never been through facing their own mortality, the fight to feel productive, or the fear that all the trauma and invasive treaments will fail. Women with the breast cancer gene have an 85% chance of getting cancer..and they don't get to choose when, or how, or have any control of the outcome.
Those of you who are worried about how Linday will manage without reconstructive surgery may want to consider that the value of a human comes from their spirit, not their body. Good for you Lindsay.
To the person above that believes Lyndsay will have intimacy issues -

If a man doesn't know how to be intimate with a woman rather than her breasts, then HE has the issues!!

I do think it truly funny how many people say she has mutilated her body, but go on to suggest further mutilation with breast enhancements. Our society needs to grow up and realize that a woman is more than the sum of her breasts.
What an incredibly brave thing to do and best of luck in life. For all those people judging, please don't criticise unless you have been through this yourself. It's her choice, who are you to dictate and pass judgement? I lost my Mother to breast cancer and know what it does to a family. Have a great life!
Lindsay,
Yes, you are courageous. And I truly hope your leap of faith saves your life from cancer. My gradmother, mother, aunts and cousins have had and died from cancer. I have not gone to the extreme that you have though. I noticed that you did not mention whether you had re-construction of your breasts. In a world that focuses on the body, I am confused whether you had reconstruction or not. Please clarify.
This decision was obviously not an easy one for you to make and I, like so many others, applaud your courage. To the ones who disagree with what she's done - at this point, now that the surgery is done, it seems cruel to use such harsh and judgmental words to admonish her and her doctors. It's not YOUR body, you haven't lived HER life - while you're welcome to your opposing opinion it's completely unnecessary to be so hateful about it.

Lindsay I think you're a brave girl and I wish nothing but the best for you. To not only undergo such an invasive and personal thing but to also share your story with the world is awesome. And the fact that you've also become an advocate in the fight against this awful disease is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story :)
At age 35 my wife tested positive for BRAC2. Due to the ignorance of her extended family, she only learned that early onset "female-type" cancer is widespread in her family after her sister’s successful battle with the disease last year. Statistically the chances of her being diagnosed with some form of cancer is very high. If she had BRAC1, the chances would be even higher. Despite having a mammogram and/or MRI every six months, she has decided to have preventative surgery and reconstructive surgery to follow. I fully support her decision. Without the surgery, she is a time-bomb most likely to go off some time before she turn 70 years old. One cannot hope, pray, and/or dream that a miracle cure will be found someday as the medical profession has been unsuccessful to date. In the interim, the only means of prevention is removal. How dare anyone criticize a woman’s choice as how to best deal with this personal decision. The courage required to make such a decision is incredible. She will always be the same girl I fell in love with 10 years ago.
Lindsay,
This is LouAnne again. I forgot to mention that my mother died from cancer at the age of 37. I want to know if you are going to have your uterus, ovaries, and cervix removed also to prevent cancer? My mother and her sister not only had breast cancer but also uterine and ovarian cancer.
I think it's disgusting that we live in a society where a young girl is criticized for removing her breasts in order to someday spare herself and her family the heartbreak of breast cancer. You call her self-mutilative, but what's the difference between what she did and what so many other girls her age do when they go and get breast implants?
Lindsay, don't listen to the people leaving negative comments, and please note that they are greatly in the minority here. They are not in your position and have no idea what you and your family have been through. Congratulations to you for taking the steps toward trying to prevent your children from having to go through what you did, having to watch this horrible disease wreak havoc on their loved ones.

And for the people who are leaving comments regarding intimacy issues...how superficial can you be? Any man who looks poorly on the fact that Lindsay courageously decided to take her fate into her own hands instead of waiting around for cancer to appear doesn't deserve her anyway! And for Dan, who left the comment "As a man, I find this decision both to be shocking, horrible, defeatist and myriad number of other things."...where is it your place to judge? It's not your body, it's not your family. Maybe it's not the decision that you would make or encourage a woman in your life to make...but it boils down to the fact that it's really not your decision at all - get over it. You call this self-mutilation, I call it courage. She is trying to prevent what has happened to every other woman in her family. Just because you don't get it, that doesn't mean that you have to be so incredibly rude about it.

Good luck Lindsay - stay healthy! :)
First, let me say that as a male, I realize I speak from a disadvantage on this particular matter, but I still felt a need to comment.

Second, I absolutely agree that this was a very tough, and very brave decision - however, I have to question its necessity. A pre-disposition does not guarantee that something will happen - nothing is 100%. And what does this do to your ability to breast-feed any future children (I'm assuming no breasts means no breast-milk)? Breast-milk is supposed to be the ultimate source of strengthening an immune system, so wouldn't this serve to increase the pre-disposition risk to your future generations? And this procedure doesn't remove the risk from future generations, either.

There could also be unintended consequences; a friend of mine had breast reductions surgery, but her body - still used to generating the fat cells that are supposed to go there - started sending them to other places in her body that would accept them, which has caused her to spend a whole lot of extra money on various diets and such that she would not have done otherwise (yes, this may be a bargain compared to the cost of potentially treating breast cancer, but it's not insignificant). And while this means no breast cancer, is there anything to say that this pre-disposition won't simply develop as another kind of cancer once it finds there are no breasts to invade?

We have ways of thwarting Nature, but it has ways of countering our moves ("Oh, antibiotics will cure all of the world's ills! Whoops - we over-used them, and now have to deal with 'superbugs' that are immune!"). And, with a procedure this drastic, there's no going back - you don't get to change your mind.

I wish you well, good health, and a long life.
I applaud you. I worked with a young woman with the same genetic disposition - and she developed breast cancer at age 28. It grew so aggressively that her fertility had to be destroyed, so that her hormones could not leave her at risk for a reoccurance.

I am happy to say that she survived, but it wasn't easy.
Lindsay,

You made a very brave decision. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34 years old. Cancer is a horrible disease thath you are taking steps to avoid. Those that cannot understand your decision have not walked in your shoes.
To all those who don't think this was a good idea, you probably never lived with someone with a terminal illness or one that could become terminal. I am 34 years old and just recently went through a B.C scare, luckily for me it was nothing. But if there was a history of it in my family I would definetly have the test done and if I carried the gene I would have mine removed. Just because you catch it early doesn't mean everything will be okay.

My father was terminally ill and ended up having a transplant when I was senior in high school. The constant worries that kids go through no matter how much the parents think they are protecting them is amazing. I would never wish that on my children and if removing my breasts or my leg as someone mentioned could help prevent that - then by all means I would go for it. The emotional roller coaster that kids go through is horrendous - because they are kids they don't understand all the implications and always think the worse.

To those who state that you can't play God - they are right but God may also want this to be the path that Lindsay takes to spread awareness, and share her story so that others can be educated that there is testing out there. God not only created us he created the doctors miracles don't always come directly from heaven at times there is modern interventions and doctors who are acting as the delivery method for those miracles.

Lindsay thank you for the work that you are doing and keep on fighting for more awareness.
I'm still trying to wrap myself around this story. Avner has a "genetic" predispostition to the desease. How does having a double mastecomy prevent her offspring from having the same issue when they grow up?
I do hope that if Lindsay is reading this forum, that she is able to fill the room with laughter when those who condemn her choice shock us all with their ability to type. Logic, reason, and good common sense all point to the fact that this was the right choice. Anyone familiar with the gene knows that 80% plus is not a maybe. I read some comments that asked why didn't she wait 20 years and see if they find a cure. Please read up on breast cancer and know that she did not have that long to wait. Personally, I am a 36-year-old male, and I think she is a beautiful woman, regardless of such a minor change to her body. Beauty is in the smile, the mind, and the kindness she will be able to show to her potential husband, children, and friends as she lives the rest of her life. You do rock, and trust me, when I tell you men who are chastising her, that such an awesome women would never be interested in people such as yourselves, nor should she be. Lindsay, may your life be full of wonder, and as I am sure you already know, ignore the vain people believe that a woman is nothing more than her breasts.
Wow... It is great to have stories such as Lindsay's reaching such a public forum. Not only do i think it challenges us to grow as individuals i also think it causes us to recognize others in our world who are living in ways we might not generally encounter. I am sure it has been said numerous times but it certainly can not hurt to be said again, Lindasy i applaud your decision and i am amazed by the wonderful strength and self awareness you have. Thank you for sharing your decision with the community so we could grow as well.
My head is going to explode from all of the ignorance and harsh judgement being displayed here. As a surgical oncologist, let me attempt to educate those who obviously desperately need it.This young lady possesses a mutation of a gene called BRCA that carries up to an 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer as well as an extraordinary high risk of ovarian cancer. Her choice of preventative mastectomies greatly reduces the odds of contracting/dying at a young age. Many women with these mutations are diagnosed decades before women without this mutation. To the NEANDERTHALS who believe this is a mutilation have no understanding of surgical technique nor comfort with the beauty of the human body. My plastic surgery colleagues perform beautiful reconstruction surgeries that allow these women to have a lovely breast mound, should they so choose, although by no means not all women choose reconstruction. It is scary people like you that have kept women from talking about their disease, shame on you. And who is the fool quoting WWJD? Do you take medication for your diabetes, heart disease etc? That is medical therapy that you elect to stay healthy and prolong death. Why do you criticize Lindsay for using surgical therapy to do the same? Finally, let me explain people, this is real. Just 2 months ago, a lovely 25 year old woman who was a known carrier for this mutation walked into my office with a large breast mass and I had to give her the devastating news that yes, this was a cancer. She unfortunately was found to already have the cancer metastized. She won't likely see her 30th birthday. Is that what you wish for Linday and others like her? If you still don't get it, you had better pray for yourself before you pray for Lindsay.
Hello Lindsay!
How brave you´ve been! Well, as it says everyone has his will and we, the others, ought to respect the choices and decisions taken.We cannot judge you but the action. Perhaps an extreme one. Anyway, hope you feel well and prosper!
Hugs,

Aleixo
Lindsay,
Your story is both horrifying and impressive at the same time. I am sure you will never look back at this decision.
I'm genetically predisposed to heart disease, perhaps I should have my heart removed. Sure, I'm just being facetious, but isn't that what we are really talking about here? I mean if medicine allows this sort of thing, where do we draw the line?
I AM A 25 YEAR OLD WOMAN AND I THINK I WOULD DO THE SAME AS YOU. IF I KNEW THAT I HAD THE GENE I WOULD. THAT WAY I WOULD BE ABLE TO LIVE THE LIFE I WANT INSTEAD OF WONDERING DO I HAVE THE CANCER. SO PROPS TO YOU. YOU MAKE A STAND FOR ALL WOMEN.
Lindsay,
I am 38 and was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 29. I had a mastectomy on my right side, because I had to. I have since been diagnosed with metastatic breast to bone cancer, on the RIGHT side of my body. The side on which I had my mastectomy... do you know why? Because not all of the tissue was properly removed, and because I was still producing estrogen. You have elected to remove your breasts. You have NOT necessarily reduced your chance of getting this disease. And let me tell you something, dear... I was 29, had been married for six years, had a very solid relationship and still do, but not having a breast that you can feel anything on and having scars and having cancer still hanging over your head (because it will, regardless of your abrupt removal of body tissue) is not conducive in any way to intimacy in a relationship, whether he is as wildly optimistic and idealistic as you or not.
You also chose to deprive any future children you may have of breast feeding, and girl, if you have daughters, what are you going to tell them??? They are going to see you naked... they are going to ask... you are going to share your fear with them before they are even old enough to understand what the fear is or why you had it...
I hope you don't regret your decision to do this, and I hope you don't get cancer. But you really haven't solved the problem, you've merely closed the curtains over the window, at a very high price to yourself and your future family.
And, finally... I agree with all those who have said... this kind of behavior should NOT be celebrated. And I HAVE walked in the moccassins, thank you very much.
I think that is brave of her to go through with the surgery. Also awesome that she started the non-profit organization. I have had some scares in my life with my grandmother and a friends mother. So I kind of know what feelings she would have about her family members having breast cancer. Stay strong and take care of yourself.
To everyone who thinks this is drastic or self mutilation you obviously have not experienced living in a family that has an obvious genetic component in their breast cancer history. I myself, have a grandmother, her sister, an aunt and a mother who have experienced the horror of breast cancer. We lost my aunt because she had an aggressive form and she was 32. There is a direct line of BRCA 1 in my family...I have not been tested yet but I will. However, I live with worry everyday...it is not an if for me it is a when.

Once I test I will take the same steps as Lindsay. I'd been debating for a few years...since my mothers experience with cancer. This year, after she had a scare with a reoccurence I decided I am not going to live worrying about whether I'm going to wake up one day and find a lump, or my yearly mammogram will disclose my worst fear.

To those who worry about maintaing sexuality in a relationship, most people who have double masectomy will have reconstruction, especially young women. I have a boyfriend who has been a party to my decision. He agrees that is you have a chance to reduce your risk 80% you should do it. Someone who truly loves you, loves you as a whole...whether I have my natural breast or saline implants doesn't matter. My breast are a small small part of who I am as a person. Lindsay, there are many men who will understand,who willa ccept your choice and will praise you for it.

I commend Lindsay for her choice and i commend the media for reaching out and publishing these stories. The NYT also published a stroy about a young woman who made the same decision. Some people cannot live with an the possibility of an "if" that could deny them years with their family,friends, husband, and future children. Of course there are other things that can kill you in life, but when you see women in your family go through chemo/radiation/surgery all for the same thing it changes you. It changes the way you see the world and your life. Lindsay is brave for doing this and I fully support her decision seeing as I live a parallel life to hers.
Leave it to the poor little rich girl to cut herself up and then chat about it. Just the fact that she has a non-profit going tells me she is rich, needs attention and that this is the best and loudest way to get her little story out there. So she disfigures herself.

I can not believe how ignorant people are. You do not have to be rich to start a non-profit organization. I applaud Lindsay for her decision, as for all the people who think this it is ridiculous to take action when presented with such a high likelyhood of developing cancer: you have obviously never been faced with watching every woman in your life suffer from it. I think it is brave of her to take action to prevent her family from going through what she did. Watching someone they love suffer from breast cancer. If she wants a breast augmentation afterwards more power to her, but I think she is even more beautiful by showing that her health is more important then her breasts.

You are an amazing and brave woman Lindsay. I applaud you for choosing not to live in fear, check-up to check-up.
I feel for her and her family. But, I completely think this was way drastic a move. Get frequent exams. And if you're genetically predisposed to get it ...guess what? You will get it, just in another part of your body. Will you have that part removed as well?
I don't get this.
If you are confused by her decision, visit her website. There is a section specifically about why she made such a drastic decision, as well as links to articles about what she did and why.
Lindsay,Way to be smart and proactive. We need more people like you alive and fighting in this world to rid the world of disease.
Other readers who disagreed with her decision....HER BODY! HER CHOICE!!!
If anyone had taken the time to do any CURRENT research, you would find her choice to be extreme in any case. Here are some facts from 2007/2008 American Cancer society.

1.)An estimated 178,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women will be diagnosed in 2007, and approximately 40,460 deaths will be recorded. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.

2.)In 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available), approximately 2.4 million women living in the US had a history of breast cancer. Breast cancer accounts for more than 1 in 4 cancers in US women.

3.)On average, the breast cancer death rate decreased by 2.2% each year between 1990 and 2004. Younger women saw an even more significant decline during that period.

Not only is the rate of breast cancer going down, survival has gone up considerably.

By Age Chances By Age Chances
25 1 in 19,608 60 1 in 24
30 1 in 2,525 65 1 in 17
35 1 in 622 70 1 in 14
40 1 in 217 75 1 in 11
45 1 in 93 80 1 in 10
50 1 in 50 85 1 in 9
55 1 in 33 Lifetime 1 in 8

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. This risk of developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages, if she has a family history or personal history of breast cancer, has never had children or had her first child after age 30, early onset of menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), exposure to radiation, diet high in fat, being overweight (for older women only). However, over 70 percent of cases occur in women who have no identifiable risk factors.

Here are a couple links to educate yourself.

http://www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/CAFF2007PWSecured.pdf

http://awarebse.com/html/keyfact.html

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/preventive-mastectomy


Now having said all that, I want to address a few other things regarding some of the posts here.

Women do not have the lock down on cancer and certainly are not dying from it as much as men are. Other than female specific cancer (breast is not female specific), men die from cancer much more than women. We are familiar with colon, prostrate, lung..etc..and even some men have breast cancer. So stop saying men's only concern is that she cut of her breasts and that men are fixed on breast only in a sexual capacity. That is just stupid.

Myth: Knowing you have the BRCA1 gene means you can prevent breast cancer.
Fact: Nothing can prevent breast cancer. About five percent of women in the United States who have had breast cancer are thought to carry the mutant BRCA1 gene. Women who carry this gene have an 85 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Once they are identified, they will need to be closely monitored by their doctors.

Myth: Prophylactic mastectomies protect against breast cancer in high risk women.
Fact: In a prophylactic mastectomy the surgeon removes breasts with no cancer, however, some of a woman's breast tissue remains. Breast tissue extends up towards the neck, the armpits, and the chest wall. Risk of developing breast cancer remains as long as there is breast tissue in the body.


So first off she has only reduced her chance of breast cancer, not eliminated it. Secondly there are several alternatives for women with this gene (about 5% only of all women have these genes, yet 70% of all breast cancer is from women WITHOUT history or genetic predisposition.

There are drugs right now that have shown the ability to reduce cancer risk up to 50%. That would have been the logical choice before cutting her breasts.


All of this can be read on the aforementioned sites.

Is preventive removal an option, yes of course, should it be your first option..hell no.

So please, save the drama of how brave she is, when in reality she was simply terrified and reacted in an extreme way. Everyday there are new treatments, and new studies. She is 23 years old, she is barely old enough to legally drink, and already has made a decision I guarantee she will question and regret later in life.

Imagine how she will feel if she developes cancer despite her extreme measures? What then? Breast tissue if in many places..including as low as the stomach and as high as the neck. They never get it all, so if you have some tissue, and the gene exists..well what have you really done? You have lower your risk, but not eliminated it. If you can lower your risk by using prescriptions for that very thing, wouldn't that be a better choice to try first?


She shouldn't be portrayed as someone special for her actions. How about putting a story about someone who actually had cancer and did something about it. Not someone who is not sick in anyway, and decides to just remove them anyway. That is nothing to be proud off, and that does nothing to help fight the disease she so desperately wants to raise awareness of. You want to do something about breast cancer..don't just cut and run and call it something special. She has done nothing to help any woman in their fight against breast cancer...she has only shown them how to give up and quit. So later on in life if she does have a daughter..what will she say..dont fight it..just cut them off and you will be fine?

This is not a solution, it is not a cure, it is not a fight, so much as a simple surrender to what she considers inevitable. What about that is suppose to make me feel proud and good about what she did?
"but at least she has eliminated the possibility of a cancer that more women die from than they survive "

Wow, get the facts. More women SURVIVE than die from it.

182,800 new cases of female invasive breast cancer diagnosed, and about 40,800 women will die from the disease.
Dear Ms. Avner;

I just wanted to say that "YOU'VE GOT GUTS", and reading your story shows that anyone can overcome any adversity in their lives if they just tackle the adversity "HEAD ON"! I appreciate your inspirational story, and overcoming your adversity with a history of Cancer!!!!!! Hats off to you!!!!!
quote: "I'm pretty sickened by the negative comments. Why do you value a woman's breasts more than her LIFE?"

How is her life endangered at this moment, or more properly at the time she removed her breast. She ONLY has the gene, not cancer itself. There are other treatments that will reduce up to 50% of her 85% chance of getting cancer. Also, just because you get cancer, doesn't mean you automatically are handed a death sentence. Get informed and get real and stop making sound like its about "BREASTS". Its about choosing the most extreme form of treatment when you don't even have cancer. Its about ignoring non-invasive alternatives. Stop acting like women's breasts are the end all be all of the conversation. It appears more women are caught up the "breast" concept then the men.
I commented on this story earlier, when i came back today to see what people had been saying, i am completely sickened by how many people are so focused on this girls breasts and not her life. Not only to breasts not make a woman, but are you actually saying that they are more important than her life?? The way that some of these people are talking, they seem to imply that Lindsay will never be able to attract a man, boyfriend, husband, etc. without the use of her breasts. Do we really still live in such a patriarchal society that a womans life is supposed to revolve around her physical appearance for the sole reason of attracting a man?
I am appauled by some of the responses to this article.
And once again Lindsay, I applaud you.
I have had breast cancer twice in 6 years. Even after chemo and radiation. This last time however, I was told to have a double mastectomy. I KNOW what you went through and are still going through. BUT your spirit will get you through everything. I am NOT having reconstruction. If I need breasts for a certain look then I will go out and buy a padded bra. It has been 1 year and 3 months now and I don't miss them at all. And neither does anyone else. If that is what defines someone, then that is a pretty sad person. Congratulations on your decision to prolong your life.It truly is a decision that demands every emotion from you. No one who has not had to make this decision can possibly understand what you went through. I'm proud of you and wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing. A big HUG to you.
I think this is an extremely bold and risky move. I don't exactly think she is going to start a new phenomenon of women having this surgery, but the freedom and piece of mind she has now was obviously worth it for her.
"I find this to be drastic, paranoid and quite honestly sad. I am saddened that sensible adults in your life didn't steer you away from self mutilation on the CHANCE, yes chance mind you, that you might get breast cancer. "

Tina, If you spent 1 day breast cancer or seeing a loved one go through it, you wouldn't make such an ignorant statement. My wife's breast cancer was disgnosed late so we deal with this every day. Had she the option to have her breasts removed or go through this every day, there's no question what she would have done. This young lady is saving herself from the horror of this rotten disease. Instead of criticizing her, make a donation to the Susan B Komen race for the cure. It could save your own life someday. 1 in 8 of the women reading this will know that horror someday.
Such a proactive but also drastic approach cannot be a good role model for other people. Yes, she has a family history that could potentially develop into cancer, but surely you'd want to leave your body whole at all costs until forced to do otherwise.

Cancer can be reversed - it can be fought against and won. Cancer diagnosis and treatment will no doubt improve drastically over time. To believe that you're improving your life by performing an irreversible surgery on it with no current medical justification appears to be a phenomenally bad choice. It will affect the rest of her life - longer than if she had ultimately developed cancer, fought it and won - and so I'm not sure if she has improved her situation at all. After all, there is nothing to say that she won't get cancer elsewhere in her body as millions of other people do.

Such an overreaction to a potential threat would be equivalent to very literally cutting your nose off to spite your face. The prospect of cancer may be extremely scary, but for goodness' sake, let's not regard what she did as a 'good' thing - she may equate her actions to peace of mind, but how could she obtain peace of mind knowing that she will never know whether she would have got cancer in her breasts at all, because it wasn't necessarily a certainty, or if she had whether it would be curable, and therefore potentially mutilating herself for no good reason.
Mrs. Avner it is great to know there are people like you, who have the courage to face your own problems, and afterwards, help others face their problems. Congratulations!!
Hey 8:29 AM (WWJD?) - Jesus certainly wouldn't post a ham-fisted comment about how we're all going to die anyway so there is no point to take steps to improve your health and happiness. Please see 3:33 AM for an example of an informed and rational post.
I can't believe people are outraged and horrified by her decision. Women have elective surgeries every day in this country -- be it to 'fix' their nose, to make their breast LARGER even to nip and tuck their private areas. The fact that this woman did it for her OWN future well-being and NOT to IMPRESS others should win your admiration. People against her decision -- aren't you putting too much emphasis on physical beauty. It is not self-mutilation -- it's self-preservation!
I don't really consider this as being brave. On the contrary, it sounds more like she gave into her fear. She was so afraid of getting cancer that she unnecessarily removed her mammaries.

Society is hopelessly misguided if this is what we consider inspiring. I'm not chastising her for her decision - it's her body. It's just that bravery to me is someone who presses on in the face of danger. That said, I see more bravery in every other woman who keeps her breasts and makes sure to examine regularly.
Some of these comments are so infuriating - I had to stop reading. Are some of you seriously considering the presence of natural breasts to be more important than the peace of mind (and lower chances of breast cancer) that she can now enjoy? It's as if you have become angry at her for making a choice that has nothing to do with you or anyone else. There is an unbelievable level callousness in some of your words. Of all of the body parts to remove, breasts have no governing function that a normal person couldn't live happily without. Your arguments are hollow and narrow-minded. With breasts: remarkably HIGHER chance of suffering through (possibly dying of) cancer. Without breasts: remarkably LOWER chance of suffering through (possibly dying of) cancer. That's simply it. Good luck, Lindsay. I hope you are better that I am at dismissing the aggressive ignorance that seems to pervade humanity.

Jessie
Age: 25
Way to stick it to breast cancer Avner.. you rock!
It is amazing to me to see all the negative responses associated with this story. I have been thinking about also having this surgery done for some time now. My mother, who is only 50 years old, died to weeks ago after suffering for years with this terrible disease. I don't feel anyone can truly understand Lindsay's desicion without having knowlege about the disease or if it has affected your life in some way. I envy Linsay for making the decision to try to prolong her life to make a difference in the world and bring awareness to this disease before taking the chance to perhaps let her life end at such an early age.
An awful lot of people seem to think this was a couragous decision I think it was rather cowardly. This woman has no idea what the future holds for her or medical technology. How sad that she isn't willing to take the risk.
I found this story very interesting in the decision that the woman made herself and the reaction to it. It seems very polarized. I decided to research this story a little further and discovered two things:
1.) she had an 85% chance of getting cancer
2.) she has opted to get breast implants.

I see this as an issue of rationality not bravery. I am a man and a scientist and thus I like to have at least some of the facts before I make up my mind. This woman faced significant risk (85%). She weighed the costs and made a rational decision. She also has decided to have breast implants to help account for her loss.

Let me ask you something, if you were told that you have 85% to die in the future, what would you do to maintain your life? This is not "just a chance" but a likelihood. Science is not perfect, true. Impulsive opinion and vitriol is certaintly not perfect either. Far from it. I would ask everyone here to think, explore, and then decide.
Wow! While the surgery may have helped you "not to live in fear," I am sincerely hoping that your gamble of beating cancer pays off. I am not familiar with where cancer may come from (i.e. can it come from outside the actual breast) but I'm sure rooting for you!
This is incredible. Science has come a long way. Pretty soon people whose parents had heart attack can replace hearts and kidney problems then replace kidneys so on etc. :). People have to understand that they die eventually, if its a disease then so be it. I think its stupid to mutilate yourself in fear of dying. For that matter i would avoid flying,driving etc. if i am afraid. Diseases happen regardless you take early action or not. You shouldn't live in fear because of them. What now if she has something else, like kidney stones etc. ?
Please focus & improve on your deeds,given the time you have, do not live in fear of anything. Take things as they happen. Eventually people die, that shouldn't make us afraid.
Lindsay - I believe the real issue here is your fear.

We will ALL face serious illness and death someday. This may sound harsh but most people come to terms with the fact they'll die someday and still manage to live happy and productive lives by CHOOSING NOT to spend every waking hour in fear and worry. They also seem to manage it without self mutilation. I’m shocked that you even found a surgeon willing to violate the Hippocratic Oath by removing healthy organs.

Some will laud your actions as courageous, but in my opinion, lack of courage drove your actions. You chose self mutilation over having the courage to deal with many of life's many little "what if scenarios".
A co-worker of mine developed breast cancer at age 64. She came back to work after her double mastectomy and was positively estatic. Slightly confused by this, I asked her how she was doing with it all, and she explained. Every woman in her family had had breast cancer and she had spent her entire life waiting for the cancer. She said, "I am so happy I finally had the cancer, now I can enjoy my life."

Maybe Lindsay Avner will develop some other kind of cancer, maybe not. There are no guarantees in life for any of us. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for my co-worker to live 64 years in such fear of this disease that she was overjoyed when she was finally diagnosed with breast cancer. What an amazing and empowering choice Avner made.
There are many questions I have, such as, did insurance help you with the cost? Did you/will you receive implants or other reconstructive? Will you be able to nurse your children? Are you interested in having children? What are some more palatable options to breast removal to those women who are pre-disposed to this illness?

Brave or not, call it what you will, I think it's good that she's opening up a dialog about the subject. While I don't think I would make the same decision she made, I can understand why she might.
What Lindsay did was without a doubt intense. And as someone who is also dealing with carrying certain risks... I can understand why she would want to eliminate the need to worry constantly. Especially, as mentioned over an insignificant body part. It is not uncommon in medicine for somethign to be sacrificed for the benefit of another.

To the people who have passed such critical judgement on Lindsay...

There is nothing to be said to you. Your own fear outweights your ability to contemplate the fear that Lindsay had to live with, and the fear I'm sure she lived with through the surgery. I highly doubt that the decision was made lightly, or was "easy".

I don't think the message here is that all women should run out and get a mastectomy. The message is we should be aware, and we should be current on our medical situations. And with research and preparation we can all make our own decisions as to what we can live with.

Thoughts: People with a history of Alchohol addictions, avoid alchohol... betting addictions, avoid betting... --It's powerful to know what you are at risk for. And it's YOUR choice as to how you deal with that.
As a man who happens to be both husband and father, this is a heart wrenching story, but a story of amazing courage in the face of a culture that is enamored by sex and physical beauty, often idolizing and objectifying something/someone that serves more purpose than just sexuality.

Without mincing words, breasts are wonderful, but I would gladly have my wife choose to remove hers if it meant even having her for another week, month or years. My love, admiration and devotion for her go so much deeper than two breasts. Doubtless, it would be difficult, but good grief, I would rather have a beautiful "breastless" wife alive, than a beautifully breasted spouse in a casket.

And for those who are so cruel in their words, shame on you! Its obvious to me that they are self-righteous bigots who pride themselves in their supposed abhorrence and piety. Unless you walk in this girls shoes and research her family history, what right do you have to lyrically eviscerate her?

Lastly, I would remind readers that breast cancer is not just confined to women. A growing number of men suffer the same disease. All options should be on the table for all people when it comes to living cancer free.

Courage Lindsay. You definitely rock big time! :-)

~Charles
Lindsay, thank you for bringing attention to this important issue!

I recently chose prophylactic bilateral mastectomy for myself and I have to say that I am shocked that this issue is so polarizing.

I don't believe in mutilation either. That's why I haven't pierced my ears.

My risk of getting breast cancer is now only 4 - 6%. Do you know what a relief that is? To me, it's huge.

Thanks Dr. B for trying to clear things up. Those who are critical, clearly don't know what they're talking about.

Well, gotta run. I'm off to the supermarket. I think I'll "play God" and "live in fear" by wearing my seat belt.

Oh and finally - they're non-existent and the sex is still spectacular!
"Cancer can be reversed - it can be fought against and won. Cancer diagnosis and treatment will no doubt improve drastically over time. To believe that you're improving your life by performing an irreversible surgery on it with no current medical justification appears to be a phenomenally bad choice. It will affect the rest of her life - longer than if she had ultimately developed cancer, fought it and won"

The person who wrote this undoubtedly knows nothing about breast cancer and the devastating affect a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has on a woman’s life. To say that having a prophylactic mastectomy will affect Ms. Avner's life longer than if she ultimately developed cancer, fought it and won, is insane. As a 2 time survivor of breast cancer (diagnosed at age 35), I live with the after affects of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation every day of my life. Because of the size and aggressiveness of my tumor, my only choice was mastectomy. I did have the choice in deciding whether to "lop off" my other breast, which I did without regret. My husband was very supportive and is still attracted to me. My life is more important to him than my breasts. I'm very thankful for the treatments that are available because they saved my life, but they are not without long term consequences. I fought cancer and after 15 years, maybe I've won, but believe me, if I'd known that I was high risk for breast cancer before my diagnosis, I would have done exactly as Lindsay has done. If my daughter was in Lindsay’s shoes, I would want her to do everything in her power to avoid what I went through, even prophylactic mastectomies. Lindsay Avner is a very courageous young woman and I applaud her being proactive with her health. I am shocked at some of the mean spirited comments on this board.
You just rock Girl!
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