Sisters take proactive approach to breast cancer prevention

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - Actress Angelina Jolie recently revealed she underwent a preventative double mastectomy.

Her courage has two Winchester sisters braving the unknown and fighting a killer that has already hit their family.

In pictures, it's evident over the years Susan Knuckles and Shawna Wells have shared a lot

"Ever since we were little we only had each other," said Susan Knuckles.

At 37 and 41-years-old the two might be closer than ever and are still taking pictures.

"We rely on each other for support, for laughter and for tears," said Knuckles.

Recently, Knuckles and Wells learned they shared something that might keep them from living a long life together.

With a family history of ovarian cancer and Wells having had several questionable mammograms she was encouraged to undergo genetic testing.

"When she ran the blood work it's about a 9-12 week wait to get the results and when they called me right after Christmas she said your BRCA 1 was negative, but your BRCA 2 was positive," said Shawna Wells.

The news was shocking, a genetic mutation revealed Wells runs an 85-90% chance of getting breast cancer and a 38-50% chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Knuckles realized she needed to know what her odds were too.

"When it came back it was an exact match to Shawna's," said Knuckles.

So together, sisters who have spent years sharing everything now faced a difficult decision.

"You could continue to go on and go every six months and just pray that you are going to get a good report or choose to do what Susan and I are going to do be proactive," said Wells.

Both have chosen to have a double mastectomy, Knuckles will also have a hysterectomy. Wells has already had her hysterectomy.

To some it may seem like a radical move.

Both say they like the odds in their favor better, and look at having surgery as a way to have a future.

They face a long road ahead of them, but as sisters their bond is strong, something cancer can't break.

"There are a lot things in life you do want to share, but you know sometimes the tragedy and the triumph are the best things to share," said Knuckles.

Since shooting this story, Susan Knuckles has had her double mastectomy and hysterectomy and is recovering. Shawna Wells will have her surgery in July.

Both women encourage others to talk to their doctor about genetic testing if they have a family history breast or ovarian cancer.

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