NEW YORK --It's a decision that will remain with her the rest of her life. ABC employee Paige More was just 22 years old when she decided to get a double mastectomy. It came after she tested positive for a gene mutation that made breast cancer almost inevitable.
"I was 22 when I took the BRCA test," More told Good Morning America.
"If you test positive for the BRCA1 gene, the lifetime risk to develop breast cancer can be up to 85 percent," said Dr. Freya Schnabel, a New York doctor who specializes in surgical oncology and breast surgery.
"My doctor said, 'I'm really sorry. You're BRCA1.' It really did not hit me in that moment. It didn't hit me for at least another year," More said.
"When people have an increased risk for breast cancer because of one of these predisposition genes, we talk about several different strategies that they may use to manage that risk," Schnabel said.
"The two that really stood out to me that I knew, 'Okay, these are my two choices,' I could either go into high surveillance programs where you're in and out of doctors' offices every six months. You're doing MRIs. You're doing mammograms. I really felt like it wasn't surveillance and it was more just waiting to get cancer. I felt like every single day I looked in the mirror and I was, like, 'I'm going to get cancer today.' It just completely consumed me in a way that I'd never felt before. My other option was, I could have a preventative double mastectomy. And that's what I did," More said.
"We also discussed the fact that she didn't have to do it right now. Even with a BRCA1 mutation, the risk for developing breast cancer in the decade of the 20s is still quite low. But she was very convinced and very confident in the decision that she ultimately made," Schnabel said.
"I remember thinking, 'I'm going to have to do this at some point. I'm strong and I'm healthy. And I'm cancer-free right now. I'm going to do this right now,'" More said.
"She's on her bed in recovery and I remember leaning over her bed and the enormity of what she had done really hit me, holding her hand and thinking, 'Thank you so much for doing this. You did this for yourself. But you really did this for us, too.' It was a big moment," said Robin More, Paige's mother.
"I'm so glad that I did it when I did it. But there's a huge part of it that comes that I wasn't necessarily ready for. I've never had anxiety in my life, and now I have an overwhelming sense of anxiety. It's not all the time. It comes randomly. So learning how to deal with that has been really difficult," Paige More said.
"I hope she can be the inspiration to other people that she is to me. I couldn't love her more. Now I have you for a long, long time," Robin More told her daughter.
"I have met so many amazing people because of this. I walked in New York Fashion Week. It was the first time in history that it was all people walking who had been affected by breast cancer in some capacity," Paige More said. "I decided to have the double mastectomy because I wanted to be a warrior. And I didn't want to be a worrier. I wanted to take control of my life. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to beat cancer before I ever got it or before it got the chance to beat me."