Wanda Sykes: “It Sounds Scary, But What Do You Want?”

black-woman-having-mammogramStartling reports of Angelina Jolie undergoing a double mastectomy have turned the public’s attention back to the fact that disease is an unfortunate occurrence that affects us all, regardless of color, age or status.

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Something that another star, Wanda Sykes, knows very well.

In 2011, during a recent Ellen DeGeneres show taping, Wanda Sykes made a shocking confession:

“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary.”

READ: The Food That May Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

Sykes admitted that while lab work was being performed after her breast reduction in February 2011 (“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff,” Sykes joked), doctors discovered she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a stage zero cancer, in her left breast.

Because she has a long history of cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes opted to have a bilateral, or double, mastectomy.

Explaining her choice, she says, “It sounds scary up front, but what do you want? Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late? I was very, very lucky. I had the choice of, you can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing. Or have zero chance of having breast cancer?”

Black Women & Double Mastectomies

African American women are almost 40% more likely to die from breast cancer. A recent study suggests that, while many women with breast cancer opt to have both breasts removed, it’s an unnecessary move for the majority of them.

READ: Why Do Black Women Die More From Breast Cancer?

Worry about recurrence drives decision, experts say, but majority have low risk of cancer in the healthy breast.

Almost 70 percent of women with breast cancer who choose to have both breasts removed as a precaution actually have a low risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast, a new study finds.

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