Blacksburg wife, mother takes action after genetic testing finds cancer risk

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - Nichole Williams, a wife and mother of three, wanted to live without worrying about the risk of ovarian cancer that took her grandmother's life.

It was the same cancer her mother was diagnosed with less than a year later.

"It was that time that she began to think, well there's got to be some connection here. My mom just died of this battle. So she got tested and she tested positive for BRCA1," Williams recalled.

Her mother had genetic testing and the results showed she was at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

"When she's positive that means I and all my siblings have a 50% chance that she passed it on to us."

Williams could have the same simple test, done through a blood test but the question was, did she really want to know.

"It was something that I really kind of didn't want to find out at first because I didn't want to hear the results but at the same time I think we're just in such a good place with medicine that we have an opportunity to know things like this and so I knew it was wise for me to find out."

The results weren't easy to hear.

"I was BRCA1 positive. I just started crying," she recalled.

The recommendation wasn't any easier to take.

"They highly recommended a double mastectomy and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, no way.' He must have saw my mouth just dropped," she said of the doctor. "I was so surprised because it was like everything woman was being taken from me."

Armed with information, Williams took preventative action.

"Once I grieved and work through it, it wasn't hard. Like I still want to live. I want to live not always thinking, is that pain this, is that pain ovarian cancer? I don't always want to be thinking about it," she said.

Five years after having a double mastectomy and having her ovaries removed Williams said she's in better shape and living life to the fullest.

"I'm very thankful I made the decision."

And living with far less risk of developing cancer. Williams said her risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is now down from 85% to less than 5%.

Genetic testing can be expensive but in many cases, insurance will pay for it when it's recommended by a doctor.