A mother of two decides to undergo a drastic surgery in order to avoid a cancer diagnosis. Sarah Durham, 43, has a long family history of cancer. “I was freaking out,” Durham told ABC News. “I was worried this is going to be the appointment. This is the time I go in and he tells me I have ovarian cancer and it was too late.”

Durham was screened every six months, but in the case of ovarian cancer, a tumor could grow to an unmanageable and life-threatening size in just a few short months. According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be an estimated 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States this year alone.

Cancer laces through Durham’s family history, with diagnoses killing both of her parents. Her father died of a brain tumor, as did her mother Magi after beating breast and endometrial cancer. Before Magi died in 2011, Durham brought her to see a genetic counselor in order to understand her mother's susceptibility to cancer. According to the doctor, Magi’s three cancers indicated that she had Lynch syndrome, a disease that causes genetic mutations and makes carriers susceptible to several cancers. Given the doctor's conclusion, there was a coin-flip chance that Durham had Lynch too. The inevitability of Durham being diagnosed with cancer was an increasing reality for her.

“It was hard because I’m a mom,” she said. “It wasn’t so shocking, but it was more just a bummer, realizing the larger genetic impact on my daughters.”

The fear drove Durham to undergo aggressive colon and ovarian cancer screenings. Soon enough, a small polyp was discovered. A gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, who specializes in Lynch syndrome, said the abnormal growth looked like Lynch.

The drastic decision

It wasn’t until Durham met a woman her age with similar genetic predispositions that she thought it was time to take a more serious step toward a cancer-free fate. The woman she met through a nonprofit organization, called Sharsheret, connected with Durham and could relate to the panic that she was experiencing before each screening. Ultimately, Durham was inspired by this connection and looked to a hysterectomy as her only option.

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a woman’s uterus or womb through an incision in the lower abdomen. The surgery could include the removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes. According to the Mayo Clinic, a hysterectomy is performed if a woman has cancer, fibroids (non-cancerous uterine tumors), endometriosis (uterus’s lining grows outside ovaries), uterine prolapse (descent of uterus into the vagina), abnormal vaginal bleeding (heavy menstrual cycles), or chronic pelvic pain.

The procedure ends a woman’s ability to become pregnant and carry a child, which is why it’s such a radical decision for a woman to make. In Durham’s case, she had both of her ovaries removed.

"It was clear to me that it was not going to be easy," she said. "To me, the scariest part of it in some way was not really knowing what that would be like, the irreversibility of it."

“It’s been such a long and emotional journey. I could never forget it,” Durham said.