Island cancer survivors cheer Angelina Jolie's surprise announcement

Actress' double mastectomy highlights life-changing surgery

 UPDATED 6:55 AM HST May 15, 2013

Angelina Jolie's shocking announcement of a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer has some island cancer survivors cheering.

They said it highlights a difficult, but potentially life-saving option.

Dorie Erlandiz doesn't have a lot of energy to play with her dogs, because radiation treatment has left her weak.

"I'm right on the boundary of being in remission," said Erlandiz.

It has been an emotional and exhaustive journey just to get to this point.

"My mother passed away last February, then I found out in May I had breast cancer," said Erlandiz.

Her mother Francis died from breast cancer. The disease then took a hold of Dorie, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

She was willing to undergo chemotherapy and radiation, but she was not ready lose a part of herself when doctors suggested a radial surgery to stop cancer dead in its tracks.

"My surgeon said, 'Why don't we do a double mastectomy?' At the time, I wasn't OK with that because I didn't know enough," said Erlandiz.

Celebs who have had mastectomies
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Mastectomies - Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie shocked many with news of her double mastectomy. But she's not the only celebrity who's undergone such procedures following a breast cancer diagnosis or, like Jolie, to possibly avoid one.

Mastectomies - Christina Applegate

Click here to see celebrities who had had mastectomies.

Dr. Melvin Palalay, a medical oncologist, knows cancer and he wants to make sure his patients know about it as well.

"With more knowledge people can become more secure in terms of what to do," said Palalay.

Jolie's genetic testing and double mastectomy are part of a growing trend in medicine to find and fix problems before they even begin.

"This is the future of medicine. We're going to look at the human genome and how it affects lives. This is where we're going to go," said Palalay.
There is even a new term for those who take action to prevent cancer, instead of being called survivors they are called previvors.

Erlandiz has already lost one breast in her current cancer battle, but she also wants to take the preventative step of removing her other healthy breast.

"They say I don't need it to be done because of the possibility of the cancer re-occurring might not happen, but I will always have to worry and wonder if it is ever going to come back," stated Erlandiz.

The mother of four said she'd rather spend her time living her life to its fullest, with those who matter most -- her family.

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