Local woman inspired by Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy finds breast cancer

CARNEY, Md. - It all starts with the story behind the tattoo on Brooke Schoff's leg.  That is how she honors her mom, who died when she was two years old.

There are no memories, only genetic markers. 

"Just because a mammogram came back negative it doesn't always mean that it's negative," Schoff said.    

Brooke's mom was 31 years old when she died from breast cancer.  Before she could even have a legal drink of alcohol, Brooke was going for mammograms.`

For twenty years, she was in the clear.

"I went in March and I had a mammogram.  Everything came back fine," said Schoff.    

Two months later, Brooke and the rest of us watched the story of Angelina Jolie, who tested positive for a genetic link to breast cancer and had a preventative double mastectomy.

"I decided I was just going to get it done, just get the reconstruction.  Women do it every day," said Schoff.    

Brooke went to see genetic counselor Emily Kuchinsky, with the MedStar Cancer Network.  She tested positive for a change in the breast cancer gene, and when her breasts were removed doctors found stage two cancer.

"Genetic breast cancers tend to be very aggressive, so it could have been very fast growing.  It might not have been there very long.  But it already had spread outside of her breast to her lymph nodes," said Kuchinsky.    

Now Brooke is wearing pink, starring at her medications and get well balloons, fighting medical bills, but keeping the faith.  If a real-life Hollywood story was not made public, the 39-year-old may have never seen 40. 

"These can be replaced.  My life can't," said Schoff, referring to her breasts.   

Brooke Schoff will have to do chemotherapy since the cancer is in her lymph nodes.

Her doctor told her by the time a mammogram would have caught the cancer it probably would have been too late.

Brooke was an ideal candidate for genetic testing, since her mom died from breast cancer and she is of Eastern European descent.

If you are considering genetic testing, you can contact the MedStar Cancer Network.

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