Monday, June 19, 2006
11 cousins stomachs removed
Los Angeles - Mike Slabaugh doesn't have a stomach. Neither do his 10 cousins.
Growing up, they watched helplessly as a rare hereditary stomach cancer killed their grandmother and some of their parents, aunts and uncles.
Determined to outsmart the cancer, they turned to genetic testing. Upon learning they had inherited grandmother Golda Bradfield's flawed gene, they had two options: Risk the odds that they might not develop cancer, with a 70 percent chance they would; or have their stomachs removed.
The latter would mean a challenging life of eating very little, very often.
All the cousins chose the life-changing operation. Doctors say they're the largest family to have preventive surgery to protect themselves from hereditary stomach cancer.
"We're not only surviving, we're thriving," said Slabaugh 16 months after his operation at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto.