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'Project Runway' Judge Nina Garcia Reveals She's Having a Preventative Double Mastectomy

Elle magazine editor and “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia published an essay on Elle Thursday revealing that she is having a preventative double mastectomy.

Garcia explained that her “battle of the boobs” began in 2015 after she got genetic testing to check for mutations to the BRCA genes, which are known to increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. She opted for the test because of her family history. Her results showed that she has the mutation, giving her a “high risk” of developing breast cancer.

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Her mutation was on the BARD1 gene, which interacts with the BRCA1 gene, and as she explained, her doctors don’t know exactly how big her cancer risk is. Over the last three years of monitoring her health with mammograms, biopsies and lumpectomies, she has had signs like radial scars and precancerous cells that indicated cancer could be imminent.

“I was living in a loop of testing, every day waking up thinking: Is today the day I will get cancer? I no longer wanted to have these scary thoughts, and I knew the only way they would stop was to schedule the surgery. The answer was clear,” Garcia wrote.

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She said the days after her diagnosis were “the darkest,” and she was “lonely and overwhelmed.” But after reaching out to a friend who also had a preventative mastectomy, she realized there was an “incredible community of strong women” who have been through similar situations.

“I realize I’m incredibly privileged to be where I am today. I have options and insurance and access to the best medical care. My heart is heavy for the millions of other women out there who are not as lucky,” she wrote.

Garcia shared some of her essay on her Instagram account:


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(3/3) Link in bio to read my full letter.

A post shared by Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia) on

In all this, I have learned that you have to pass it forward, be there for people, be open about your life. 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. For that woman, I want you to know that you are not alone. And while I may be having a hard time feeling brave at this very minute, I know that my sisters will be waiting for me on the other side, ready to put me back together again.

Garcia said she will be recovering from the surgery during New York Fashion Week, which kicks off Friday and ends on February 16.

A preventative mastectomy can lower the risk of breast cancer in a high-risk person by 90 percent or more, according to the American Cancer Society, though it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get breast cancer. Research has shown that preventative mastectomies are becoming more common — one study found that rates of preventative mastectomy doubled between 1998 and 2005.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK