YPSILANTI (WWJ) – At the age of 20, Kelly Rothe of Ann Arbor made the decision to have both of her breasts removed after testing positive for a genetic mutation that gave her a high chance of developing breast cancer.

Rothe, an Eastern Michigan University student, says doctors told her said she had an 87 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer. Now, after the double mastectomy, it’s down to 5 percent.

Rothe told WWJ’s Marie Osborne that when she found out she had the BRCA gene, she had to take quick and decisive action.

“I’m a very aggressive person, I think,” Rothe said. “So when I’m faced with a challenge I’m not gonna postpone it.”

Faced with criticism about her decision, Rothe responds:  “There’s only a 13 percent chance I’m not gonna have breast cancer. Are natural boobs worth that? No; never.”

Rothe had her double mastectomy in May during her summer break from college, and had reconstructive surgery last week.

Now she’s in great health and looking forward to heading back to school in a few weeks.

Her surgeon, Beaumont Dr. Michael Meininger, said Rothe chose wisely.

“She did the right thing,” he said. “Is it the right thing for everybody? No — absolutely not. But she did the right thing for her. She was going to have to do it eventually.”

What’s Rothe’s advice to other young women?

“Do your research, get to know your generic counselor, find doctors that your trust — not only with your health, but that you’re able to openly communicate with and raise concerns with,” Rothe said.

Rothe watched her mother die of breast cancer when she was just 9 years old. In order to lower her cancer chances even more, Rothe will also get her ovaries removed.


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