CHARLOTTTE, N.C. – NBC Charlotte was working with Presbyterian Medical Center trying to find a patient to talk to about the bombshell announcement Angelina Jolie made about her preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for BRCA, the so-called breast cancer gene; we never expected to end up in the corner office of the chief operating officer.
“It’s not easy because I’m a strong person, but I’m a private person, I typically keep to myself,” Amy Vance said.
Still Vance, who worked her way up from nurse to head of the hospital, and talked openly about her double mastectomy because she wants to help others.
“I never looked back. It was a decision I made, I was confident and I moved forward with it for 10,000 reasons,” Vance expressed.
It was a decision based partly on family history; cancer took her mother. It was based partly on genetics, as she indeed tested positive for the BRCA gene. But mostly Vance’s decision was based on something else.
“I lost my husband to cancer in 2010, and just a year later having this diagnosis hit me knowing I had a 5-year-old--seeing life through her eyes, I never regretted it, ever once,” Vance expressed, getting emotional.
Her genetic testing likely saved her sister, too.
“Knowing what I went through, she had genetic testing. She also has the BRCA gene; she also just completed full, 16-month course, mastectomy, reconstruction and hysterectomy as well.”
And Vance plans to tell her daughter when the time is right.
“She'll then be prepared, be able to make decisions on what’s right for her at the appropriate time.”
And the hospital COO will be here to have that conversation.
“Absolutely,” she says.
Insurance companies cover the gene testing if there is a risk. For more information, check out the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org
You can also get help here in the Charlotte area at a special Cancer clinic dedicated to people with an increased risk of any kind of cancer.
For more information on that: http://www.presbyterian.org/Home/Services/Cancer/PreventionandEarlyDetection/CancerRiskClinic.aspx