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By Dina Roth Port

Dina Roth Port’s book, Previvors, accomplishes something rare. By mixing the voices and stories of five women dealing with the reality of having the breast cancer gene with today’s science, she has compiled a compelling work of non-fiction filled with potentially lifesaving information.

Here are the stories of Rori, Amy, Lisa, Suzanne, and Mayde, as varied as the women and as similar as their plight – a sisterhood formed by an errant gene. The book opens with four of these five brave young women doing a “show-and-tell” for Suzanne so she can see for herself what to expect if she has a prophylactic mastectomy.

Knowing you have breast cancer is a horrible thing – but knowing you will probably have breast cancer because of a genetic mutation or family history may in some ways be worse. In today’s world, it is not uncommon for a woman to make decisions about whether or not to have her breasts and ovaries removed without ever knowing for sure if it’s necessary.

Author Port weaves the stories of these five young friends together with interviews from more than seventy leading medical experts, to help give some meaning to the quandary of “am I next?” Previvors provides information to help guide women through the maze of using modern genetic testing to discover their risk. Options are discussed, as well as ways to cope with the emotional roller coaster this sort of decision-making entails.

Readers will gain valuable information on the pros and cons of testing for the BRCA gene mutations; how to decide between surgical and non-surgical options; the latest research; advancements in reconstruction; the genetic link between breast and ovarian cancer; as well as how to overcome body image and sex issues post-surgery.

The final chapter is not only titled A Promising Future but manages to give the reader what we all need – hope. Dina points out that great strides are being made in genetics, tests are more accurate, treatments are becoming more personalized, screening is improving, and progress is being made. Maybe one day we can put the word prophylactic back where it belongs – in a guy’s wallet or pants pocket!

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