WRGB Search Results

The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Breast Cancer: Jolie story lacks one important hurdle

Wonderful.

That's how Angelina Jolie says she's feeling after undergoing a preventative double mastectomy.

In her first public appearance since sharing news of her surgery, at the premiere of a new film starring fiancee Brad Pitt, Jolie also said she is grateful for all the support.

The decision she made is one women around the world face everyday, with one significant difference, as a local woman knows too well.

Jolie had not been diagnosed with breast cancer, but tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene, which doctors say can increase one's risk of getting breast cancer to between 80 and 90 percent.

43 year old Kelli Rogalo of Watervliet recently found out she too has the BRCA 1 gene, and made the same decision to get a double mastectomy.

 "If she can do it, I can do it," says Rogalo.

There were differences though.  Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago this week, and had a lumpectomy.  That happened before getting the news about BRCA 1.  Jolie's decision encouraged Kelli to take the same path.

A path supported by her doctors.

Dr. Alain Polynice of the Williams Center in Latham will be handling Kelli's reconstruction, which he says can be done with either implants or her own tissue.  Either of which is generally covered by insurance.

"Breast reconstruction following a matesctomy, if you had a diagnosis of breast cancer, is covered and it's a federally mandated law," says Polynice.

If you only have the BRCA 1 gene, the mastectomy and the reconstruction aren't automatically covered.  That's not a worry for the likes of Angelina Jolie.

It's a major concern for Kelli.

"I am waiting for approval," she says.  "I am praying it will be approved."

"I have a 90% chance of getting cancer back if I don't get this done."

Local insurer CDPHP tells me if a member is positive for the BRCA 1 gene, and there is also significant family history of cancer present, mastectomy and reconstruction would be covered.