I’m one of the few Jews with a mutated BRCA gene, meaning I’m at high risk for breast cancer.
“I was adopted as a child, but I knew my chances of developing breast cancer were high. My biological mom and aunt passed away from breast cancer at young ages. When I was 18, I tested positive for an abnormal BRCA 1 gene, which meant I had a really high risk for developing breast cancer. Only a small percentage of the population carries mutated BRCA genes, which are mostly found in Ashkenazi Jews.
“To reduce the risk, I needed a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. I just wanted to be a normal college student, but the surgery was all I could think about. Dana Tumpowsky, the executive director at Hillel for Utah, was the first person I told outside of my family. Dana and my friends at Hillel became a core part of my support network after I had the surgery my sophomore year. They encouraged me to share my story at Hillel events. That’s what makes a Jewish community so wonderful — they always stand with you. In a way, this experience has made me feel even more connected to my Judaism.” — Chloe Laverson, University of Utah