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Utah woman makes drastic move to stop deadly disease

TOOELE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A Utah woman made the drastic decision to fight a deadly disease and remove her breasts even though she is only in her 20s.
TOOELE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A Utah woman made the drastic decision to fight a deadly disease and remove her breasts even though she is only in her 20s.

27-year-old Crystal Free of Tooele, snuggled up with her four-year-old son.

"You wanna watch the gummi bear song?" she said.

Soon after came Kadee Jade, a happy-go-lucky two-year-old.

Family is everything to Crystal and her husband James, even when it comes to cancer.

"Everybody's been affected," Crystal said. There is proof on her family's cancer chart.  The chart is full of red markings.  Each represents a different woman diagnosed with cancer.  For some their fight against the disease has just begun.

"They do have a 50 percent chance of it returning in the next five years," Crystal said.

That includes her mom who made an appearance on the chart.  After a battle with chemotherapy and radiation, she's now in remission.  However, her success did not change Crystal's fate.

"We just knew it was going to happen," she said. "It happens to everybody in our family." 

Crystal chose to get tested for the cancer gene.  The result changed her life.

"No matter how much you try to prepare yourself, it doesn't work," she said.  "I just started bawling."

She got the call that she had tested positive for BRCA1, a genetic mutation that increased her chance of getting breast cancer by 87 percent.  For that reason, although she was just 27-years-old, Crystal chose to have a drastic double mastectomy.

"Unless you've sat around and watched the people you love get cancer, cry, go through chemo and radiation, be absolutely sick, wish they would die and fight for their lives really... It's easier to make that decision," she said.

So Crystal went into surgery and intensive care.  While the procedure went well, the cosmetic results were hard to swallow.

"It's a shock every time I see my body cause I'm like whoa, I forgot it was like that," she said.  "I didn't like my body when I knew I was going to get cancer.  I felt like my breasts were evil. I was afraid of my body."

So Crystal chose to move on.  Right now she is undergoing reconstructive surgery.  She said she has no regrets because fear is now a thing of the past. "As of right now, I don't have to worry about breast cancer ever again."

She told ABC4 Utah her focus is exactly where it should be, on her family.

"I want to be here," she said.  "I want to set an example, I want to be a mom, a grandma.  I don't want cancer.  I don't have time for that."

Crystal documented her family history, experience with cancer, surgery, and even reconstructive procedures on her blog.  She has found solace in a group organized on facebook that connects women facing cancer or dangerous preconditions.  For more information click here.

If you have a story or an idea that is good for Utah women email Shay Baker.

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