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"Project Runway" Judge Nina Garcia Is Getting A Preventive Double Mastectomy

"To my surprise, I received an envelope containing the results, stating that I did in fact have a mutation and was at high risk for breast cancer."

Posted on February 8, 2019, at 12:02 p.m. ET

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Nina Garcia, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine and longtime judge on the design reality series Project Runway, announced Thursday her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy.

"I won’t be attending Fashion Week," Garcia wrote in an essay for her magazine, noting that it will be the first time in 25 years that she wouldn't be at the New York fashion event. "Instead, I’ll be watching from the sidelines at home, recovering from a preventive double mastectomy."

Garcia said her "battle of the boobs" began in 2015 when she decided, because of family history, to undergo genetic testing to see if she were a carrier of the two genes that medical professionals believe increase a person's chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

"To my surprise, I received an envelope containing the results, stating that I did in fact have a mutation and was at high risk for breast cancer," Garcia said.

She said her test revealed that she had a mutation to the BARD1 gene, which interacts with the BRCA1 gene, that could make her more susceptible to breast cancer.

According to Mayo Clinic, people who inherit the BRCA1 or BRCA2 (which stand for breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 and breast cancer susceptibility gene 2), account for "5 to 10 percent of breast cancers and about 15 percent of ovarian cancers."

In addition to that, the National Cancer Institute says that 72% of women who test positive for BRCA 1 and 69% of women who test positive for BRCA2 will develop breast cancer by age 80.

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Garcia revealed that she ultimately decided a double mastectomy was the best option for her because of "premonitions for what might happen," like radial scars and the presence of precancerous cells.

The Project Runway judge said the days following her decision to remove her breasts were some of her toughest, but she was able to work through it after finding community with other women who've been through the same thing.

"I had the same instinct to be private but ultimately needed to lean on my friends and am so glad I told people because they want to help," Garcia said.

Garcia is not the first high-profile woman to undergo the procedure. After Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy in 2013, referrals to British breast cancer clinics more than doubled in a phenomenon that was dubbed "the Angelina Jolie effect."

At the end of her letter, Garcia said that though she is "incredibly privileged," there are many woman across the world who don't have the same access to great health insurance and doctors as she does.

"I ultimately decided to write this in hopes that my story might serve as comfort to at least one woman out there who is going through something similar," she said.

"For that woman, I want you to know that you are not alone."

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