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Former news anchor Rene Syler didn’t want to curtail her chance for a happy and healthy life. As a woman with a family history of breast cancer the wife and mother wanted to be alive to enjoy her two children growing up. In 2002, she was diagnosed with a precancerous condition, and had to get biopsies every year afterward.

In 2007, she made the decision to have  a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a preventative measure that involves the removal of both breastsAfter losing breast tissue to each biopsy, she decided it was the best choice. It’s the same surgery that Angelina Jolie had two years ago.

“I am the daughter of the not one but two breast cancer survivors. My mother was diagnosed at 63 and my father was diagnosed younger. I had to go in and have a biopsy every year so I decided to have a preventive surgery in 2007,” Syler said.

Now an Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation, Syler wants to let African-American women know that although they get breast cancer less, if they are diagnosed, it is more likely to be fatal. Jolie, whose mother died of ovarian cancer, had a genetic marker,

called a BRCA1 marker, that often leads to breast cancer. Syler says that since her surgery it has been found out that the marker is less clear for African-American women. A BRCA1 test can run into the thousands of dollars, so less African-American women have been tested.

(Jolie announced today that she is also having her ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer.)

“My frustration a little bit is don’t question that decision unless you’ve been there,” says Syler. “Don’t question that decision unless you’ve been there with me, laying awake at night trying to figure out how I’m going to tell my kids I have breast cancer.”

Syler says that every woman has to make her own life choices but she’s an Ambassador for Komen so that she can raise awareness of Breast cancer risks for African-American women.

“Women of color are diagnosed less but die more,” says Syler. “That has to change. We can’t be dying at rates that are higher than our white counterparts. The other thing is late diagnosis. People say they don’t want to be diagnosed because they don’t want to know. Trust me, if you have breast cancer, you’re going to know eventually.”

Komen wants to make sure that as many women get preventative testing as possible and to that end, they provide mobile mammography, child care and even access to support groups. For more information, head HERE…

You can check out Styler’s website, Good Enough Mother, HERE.

Click the link above to hear the rest of the interview!

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