Memphis native recovering from double mastectomy - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Memphis native recovering from double mastectomy

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Angelina Jolie says that she has had a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carried a gene that made it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.

The Oscar-winning actress and partner to Brad Pitt made the announcement in the form of an op-ed she authored for Tuesday's New York Times under the headline, "My Medical Choice." The 37-year-old wrote that between early February and late April she completed three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts.

MORE: Angelina Jolie says she had double mastectomy: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22246957/angelina-jolie-says-she-had-double-mastectomy

The decision to have surgery highlights the painful dilemma facing other women. Memphis native Melinda Winchester underwent a double mastectomy just last week, and is now recovering at home. She said she was blind sided last fall when doctors told her she had breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Despite the stage one diagnosis, it was grade three, which she says is the most aggressive.

"For some reason I never thought I'd have breast cancer," Winchester told FOX13 News.

The mother of two says the health scare played an emotional toll on her family, especially her teenage daughter.

"I saw the fear in her eyes," Winchester said. "I knew exactly it was fear for her mother, also fear it would be her fate as well, trying to reassure her there's some much research."

Winchester says she initially wanted to go through a double mastectomy, but doctors recommended chemo. But after several chemo treatments, doctors offered up two choices - radiation therapy or mastectomy. She underwent a double mastectomy.

"As soon as she said it, felt like this is where I need to go," she said. "I knew it from the beginning, always been in back of mind."

During the especially tough moments, Winchester said she leaned on faith, family and social media. Loved ones reached out throughout the process, including the three-day hospitalization. Winchester says she recently learned Jolie underwent the same surgery.

"I'm just a small voice but somebody like Angelina Jolie, who can reach millions with her story, I feel like there's almost this obligation to wave that flag and say 'I did it, look at me, I'm okay.'"

Winchester said she doesn't have the gene Jolie has, which would make it more likely she would get cancer, but she does have a family history of cancer. Winchester is expected to recover in about four-six weeks, and she hopes to return to work eventually.

Winchester's advice to other women is to get your regular mammogram, listen to your gut and make yourself laugh.

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