Angie Lucchi is a 35 year old mom of a 6 year old boy and 8 year old girl. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for over 10 years and is a pharmaceutical representative. Angie graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Life Science from Kansas State University. Angie resides in Lee’s Summit, MO and is an active member of her neighborhood and is a Girl Scout leader.
Dr. Amy Shields is 35 year old scientist with the federal government. She has never been married and has no children. Amy graduated with highest distinction with a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. She has her Ph.D. in marine science from the College of William and Mary. Amy spent six field seasons in Antarctica doing research. Amy has been a vegetarian/vegan for 23 years and lives in Fairway, KS.
Written by Amy Shields
Twin sisters, Amy and Angie, lived in Kansas City their whole lives. They had the times of their lives when they weren’t close, especially in high school. When Amy moved away to Virginia for graduate school, their relationship became stronger.
As Amy traveled to Antarctica every winter to do research, they no longer got to share their birthday party. Amy would call Angie from a satellite phone on the back of an icebreaker. They would appreciate every moment when they were together when Amy would visit Kansas City. Amy was eventually offered a position back in Kansas City and was so excited to be back near her family.
For the past few years, both Amy and Angie faced some health issues. Angie was facing surgeries for extensive endometriosis and Amy found a lump in her left breast just in 2012. As their Aunt Linda Walter found out that her ovarian cancer had come back, she did a brave and courageous thing and had herself tested for the BRCA genes early in 2013. Unfortunately, she came back positive for BRCA1. She let her parents and other 7 siblings know.
After Linda found out she had the gene, her mother, Patricia Shields, at 85 years old was diagnosed with breast cancer. As those two continued to fight cancer, at least 8 more family members tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. Another one of Linda’s siblings is also fighting multiple myeloma.
Amy won’t forget the moment that she was in the waiting room at KU MED and the nurse came out and said “Shields”. Over 5 of us stood up to be seen by the doctor. At first it was a funny moment, but it was the first realization for Amy that we all had a hard fight ahead.
Amy and Angie tested positive for BRCA1 in August and have already begun meeting with surgeons and oncologists. Amy is not married and has never had children and is left deciding whether it is worth the risk of waiting to have an oophorectomy and mastectomy. She knows that she has up to a 44% risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 70 and up to an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. Preventative and proactive cancer management will reduce the risks for her over 90%. The choice seems to be clear. Amy is battling with the thought now that biological children are no longer an option. But, Amy has always seen adoption as a great choice and has looked into it in the past.
Angie has a different struggle. She had also wanted to have another biological child. She also has extensive endometriosis. She and her husband can work on making these choices together and she has his full support.
Both Amy and Angie are lucky to have a very large family around them for support. Like Amy, Angie has decided to do both preventative surgeries. Actually, as Amy says, Angie is the one that has been leading in all the information and decisions. Amy says, “Angie is the only way I am getting through this. She helps me make appointments, did all the research, convinced me to be tested for BRCA, and was the voice in the room that got me through my breast MRI.”
Amy would have never wanted to go through this with Angie but is seeing that both twins are lucky. As they watch their uncle, aunt, and grandmother fight cancer, they see that they have a chance to save their lives. Their aunt saved their lives by having the knowledge about BRCA. The power knowing you have the gene gives you the tools to help prevent cancer.
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