GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Knowledge is power — but when the knowledge you hold is about life and death, the questions and answers get really complicated.
On Monday, 20-year-old Kait Moore will become the second youngest woman in Michigan to undergo a double mastectomy, a surgery she believes could save her life.
“It’s not so much if I’m going to get cancer, but when,” Moore, a Grand Valley State University student, said.
A year ago, she tested positive for the BRCA-1 gene mutation, which means she has an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her life.
She has already watched as a number of women in her family — including her cousin, a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety sergeant — die of breast cancer. And Moore was only 15 years old when she lost her mom to bile duct cancer, which was unrelated to her BRCA gene mutation.
“I’m the one blessed with time on their side, so I definitely need to do something about it,” Moore said.
SUPPORT GROUP AT GVSU
Kate Smith, another GVSU student, tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene.
“I know people who are like, ‘Why do you want to know about this? It’s so much unnecessary stress.’ If I don’t know about it, I can’t do anything about it,” Smith said.
Two of her three sisters also have the gene. In fact, her older sister, Mollie, created a support group called “BRCAn’t Stop Me” at GVSU, the first collegiate group of its type in the country. Kate Smith is the vice president of that group.
The group is right alongside Moore as she takes it to cancer before cancer can take her.
“We are very proactive in this. We don’t let it bring us down,” Smith said.
“All of us know our chances of getting cancer. It’s really hard to connect with someone about that unless it’s truly happening to you as well,” Moore said.
DESPITE CHALLENGES, ‘IT’S GOING TO BE WORTH IT’
On top of the monumental choice Moore made to get the surgery, she faces another challenge. The independent woman, only child, college student studying to be a vet, band member and waitress will have to be off work for three to four weeks as she recovers.
“It’s definitely scary being by myself and wondering how I’m going to pay for all of these things, but I also know that I have the greatest people around me. I’m going to find a way to get this done because in retrospect, this is all going to be worth it if I can add 20 or 40 years on my life,” Moore said.
But she says she’s already won because she chose life.
The girls from the support group even threw her a fitting party.
“They threw me a ‘boob voyage’ party because I wanted to celebrate the fact that I can do this. Say goodbye to the boobs and say hello to a long happy life,” she said.
The support group also set up a GoFundMe account to help Moore cover the costs that will come with recovery and being out of work.
She is one of three woman in her family going through some kind of cancer-related or cancer-preventative surgery in a week’s time.
**Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Moore’s mother died of breast cancer. She actually died of bile duct cancer.