In Pretty Is What Changes, Jessica Queller journeys to the place where the cutting edge of biotechnology meets real life and real patients. Eleven months after her mother succumbed to cancer, Queller had herself tested for the BRCA “breast cancer” gene mutation. The results came back virulently positive, putting her at a terrifyingly elevated risk of developing breast cancer before the age of forty and ovarian cancer in her lifetime. Thirty-five, unattached, and yearning for marriage and a family of her own, she faced an agonizing choice: a lifetime of vigilant screenings and a commitment to fight the disease when caught, or its radical alternative—a prophylactic double mastectomy that would effectively restore life to her, even as it would challenge her most closely held beliefs about body image, identity and sexuality.
Superbly informed, courageous, and armed with surprising wit and style, Queller takes us on an odyssey from the frontiers of science to the private interiors of a woman’s life. Without flinching, she answers a question we may one day face for ourselves: if genes can map our fate and their dark knowledge is offered to us, will we willingly trade innocence for the information that could save our lives?