At just age 33, she would either need to endure several brutal surgeries to remove her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes or face the almost certainty of developing a disease that killed her mother and grandmother.
Desperate to see her two children grow up, the mother, from Long Island, New York, decided to have an oophorectomy in 2021 and a double mastectomy the following year.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘I knew I had to find a way to break this cycle. I just couldn’t die in my 60s like my grandmother and my mother.
‘Every day I can ensure I’m healthy is another day I’m here with my kids.’
Beth Gary, 35, from Long Island, New York, had her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to cut her risk of cancer. She is pictured above with her husband Mark, 44, and children Callie, now five, and Wes, three
Pictured above is Mrs Gary with her mother, who died from ovarian cancer when she was five years old, and her mother, who died from pancreatic cancer last year
Pictured above is Mrs Gary’s grandmother Joan, right, and her mother, Fran
Mrs Gary has a mutation to the BRCA2 gene.
Doctors say a quarter of women with the faulty gene develop tumors before age 50 and 87 percent at some point in their lives.
Women with this mutation also face a 30 percent risk of ovarian cancer, compared to one to two percent in the general population, and a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.
Angelina Jolie revealed in 2013 she had had her breasts removed after doctors said she had the BRCA1 mutation, which also made it a near certainty she would suffer from breast cancer.
Mrs Gary, now 35, lost her grandmother Joan to ovarian cancer when she was just five years old. At the time, Joan was 61 years old.
Her mother Fran survived ovarian cancer as a teenager but was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer last year at the age of 68 years.
She only lived for eight weeks after her diagnosis.
Speaking about her motivation for the operations, Mrs Gary said while fighting back tears: ‘It was tremendously sad to grow up without my grandmother, I would often envy the children who had a complete family.
‘And now with my mother, I feel so sad to have lost the best woman I have ever known.
‘But now I know my children are missing out on her too.’
Asked whether she felt the operations had reduced her womanhood, Mrs Gary said that instead they had left her feeling ’empowered’.
‘I felt very empowered to be able to make the decisions for myself,’ she said.
‘I would say removing my ovaries and tubes was a very emotional experience, one that I didn’t realize how emotional it would be.
‘The removal of my breasts and subsequent reconstructions was more physical.
‘But I don’t feel any different in myself now than I did previously. Obviously, you take time to heal but I am moving forward from both.
‘I am back to doing everything I did prior. I love to kayak with my husband, we have a gym in our basement where we were lifting weights last week.’
Mrs Gary found out she had the mutation when she was 26 years old and embarked on a rigorous surveillance program
She had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in 2021 and her breasts removed the following year, while also having reconstructive surgery. Mrs Gary said she had also frozen some eggs in case she decided to have children again
Tests when she was 26 years old revealed she had the deadly mutation.
At the time, Mrs Gary was dating her now husband Mark, 44, and had no children — so decided to embark on a screening program until her family was complete.
She went through a battery of screenings that saw her come in for checks for ovarian cancer every six months and breast cancer once a year.
After having her children Callie, now five, and Wes, three, however, she decided to go through with the preventative surgeries.
But just before the surgeries, she froze some of her eggs in case she ever wanted to have more children in the future.
‘I still have my uterus so if I wanted to carry another child I could,’ she said.
‘Even though I thought my family was complete, the finality of removing my ovaries was a lot. I am still fairly young and at an age where I can still have children.’
She had an operation to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes in May of 2021 when she was 33 years old.
Then she had a preventative double mastectomy in February the following year, when she was aged 34 years, with reconstructive surgery for her breasts.
It was around this time that it also emerged her mother had pancreatic cancer.
The BRCA2 gene mutations raise the risk of cancer because they stop genes from being able to repair themselves.
It is not clear why they make cancers more likely in the breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes, but doctors say this could be linked to changes in hormones.
About one in 500 women in the United States — equivalent to 33million people — have a mutation to either their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
The mutations also raise the risk of men suffering from cancers in the breasts, pancreas and prostate.
The rate of women having the procedures was about 3.9 percent in 2002, according to non-profit BreastCancer.org.
But the operation was thrust into the spotlight in 2012, when Angelina Jolie revealed she had had the preventative procedure.