Return to Transcripts main page


Angelina Jolie Has Double Mastectomy; Explaining Jolie's Cancer Gene; Leila Fowler Investigation; Prince Harry's Jersey Shore; Bruins' Historic Game Seven Comeback; Bryce Harper Runs Into Wall Full Speed

Aired May 14, 2013 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. New this morning, stunning revelation by Angelina Jolie, one of Hollywood's biggest stars, she has had a preventive double mastectomy because she carries a gene that dramatically increases her risk for breast and ovarian cancers.

She talks about the entire process in a candid new op-ed. Jolie's openness will potentially help millions of women, but who should get screened and how? Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now from Atlanta to talk more about this cancer gene and more about this test that Angelina took. Good morning, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. So this gene that she has is what's called the BRCA gene or breast cancer gene. Women usually get tested in her situation, where they have a close relative or relatives with not just breast cancer, but also -- or instead of ovarian cancer, one or the other or sometimes both.

So what she did is really smart. She knew her family history and she got herself tested. And when you get tested they might say guess what? You're good. You don't have any mutations or in her case there were mutations. So let's read a little part of her "New York Times" article that talks about what was found in her case.

She said, "I carry a faulty gene BRCA-1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman."

So, you know, those numbers are high, imagine being told, Christine, that you have an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer. You know, you could do different things. Some women say I'm going to get a lot of mammograms and NRIs and just really keep my eye on this. Other women take drugs to prevent it and other women do what she did, which is to get both their breasts removed.

ROMANS: First, women who I know have gone through this cry because this is really a scary thing to go through. Some women decide not to have preventive surgery. Others decide that they're going to monitor it and others decide that they're going to do it or first do mastectomy and then remove the ovaries. The first step is getting screened for this gene. How do women go about getting screened for cancer?

COHEN: You know what's interesting about this is that doctors themselves often tell me, you know, you can go to a doctor, but really you're better off with a genetic counselor because genetic counselors re steeped in this and this is really complex. I can't emphasize enough this is not simple.

So you want someone to counsel you through it. If you can find a genetic counselor, go to one. If you can't and sometimes they're hard to find in some cities, go to your doctor, talk about the testing and talk about what it means and be prepared for news that you don't want to hear and be prepared for tough choices.

You know, what we've seen here is that she decided to have her breast removed and in the article, it sounds like it's possible that she's going to go on to have her ovaries removed, which is recommended in this situation that women have their ovaries removed, you know, before the age of 40, a genetic counselor was telling me that. She tells her patients get your ovaries removed before your 40th birthday.

ROMANS: Angelina Jolie, she is 37 years old?

COHEN: That's right. 37.

BERMAN: Hang on -- I just wanted to bring in my "EARLY START" co- anchor Zoraida Sambolin who is here with us who has a unique perspective on all this, this morning and the decisions Angelina Jolie has made and the challenges she faces.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": You know, I said that I really struggled. You know for awhile I've been struggling because I was diagnosed with breast cancer about three weeks ago and I was trying to figure out how do I share this story, how to tell viewers I'm going to be gone for awhile because I've chosen to have a double mastectomy so Angelina's story really hit home.

I do not have the BRCA gene. I don't know if I have the BRCA gene. I have chosen to have genetic testing, not because it runs in my family, but because at the end of the day I have a lot of girls in my family. And I figure it starts somewhere.

And Elizabeth Cohen is absolutely right. It's a genetic counselor that you sit with, and it goes over this entire history with you so that you can make this major decision as to whether or not you even want to do this. But it's an expensive test.

And one of the things that Angelina Jolie, if Elizabeth is still there, one of the things that she talked about is it's an incredibly expensive test and it's not always paid for by an insurance company. So what is the option for women if, in fact, it doesn't get paid for by an insurance company if you know that you do carry this gene, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Right. One of the options is that you can apply to the company that makes the gene and ask them for help. And they have helped many, many women, you know, sometimes giving you free or giving subsidies so that they can get it.

But what's interesting is that the Supreme Court is now looking at this because one of the reasons this price is so high is only one company is allowed to make it because they have the patent on the breast cancer gene. If the Supreme Court this spring says guess what, guys, you don't have the patent anymore that price may come down because with competition prices come down.

But ask them if they'll pay for us and there are also foundations that will help women pay for this if they need it. If they've got breast cancer or ovarian cancer in their family, there is help for getting the testing.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. The other big thing is that when you do choose to have a double mastectomy, first of all you can make that choice as a woman. You can decide this is what I want to do in order to manage my care and the insurance company does pay for the reconstruction.

And I cannot emphasize that enough. Because there are so many women that I've talked to that had no idea that an insurance company actually pays for that. It's a big process. It's long. It's daunting. Angelina's talked about it. Three months, this long process in order to get to the other side, but an insurance company will also cover that cost.

BERMAN: She says it's an empowering decision in a way.

SAMBOLIN: You know what it is? It is because you can, you can make that decision as a woman. One of the things that she talks about that is very emotional for me because, you know, as a woman your sexuality and your breasts and how attached you are to them, right, as a woman.

And so at the end of the day, it's really difficult to say that I'm thinking about this, that this is something that affects me when I have two kids, that you know, I want to live for, and that at the end of the day, I'm going to cut off my arms if it means that I am going to live to see them and to see them grow up.

That's my boy, who, by the way, has handled this incredibly well and will be there with me for the surgery. But it is a tough decision to make, to say, because you know, this is a crazy thing, but I did a Google search, breast after mastectomy and the computer could not compute what I was asking.

Because you don't have breasts anymore after a mastectomy, right? Elizabeth, so it was really tough because I just wanted to know what's that process like and you couldn't put those two together.

COHEN: That's interesting. You do have breasts after mastectomy.

SAMBOLIN: The tissue. COHEN: Right. You have reconstructed breasts.


COHEN: I was with a woman as she was coming out of the operating room after she had her reconstructive surgery and she talked about after she, you know, sort of came to, how glad she was that she'd done it and how relieved she felt that these breasts that had become cancerous were gone. And that she had reconstructed breasts.

So I think it's so brave, Zoraida, that you're talking about this because so many women will have to go through this. Making the decision once they've been diagnosed, which is your situation, or trying to make the decision if they carry the BRCA gene, if they carry the breast cancer gene.

These are tough decisions in both cases. And it's so wonderful that you're talking about this because it shows you're a smart woman, you're pro-active, you're empowered, and you went about this in the exact right way.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know, I have to say I watched that story that you're talking about. My first phone call when I was diagnosed was to my fiance who has been nothing but an amazing supporter in all of this. The second one was to Ronnie Selig who you know is your reducer in the medical unit. She was my second phone call, a strong woman who knew exactly who I needed to call in order to get through this.

My biggest worry was, you know, how do I tell my kids and how do I walk them through that process? My son handled this incredibly well. I asked him, I said you know, when you think of breast cancer, when somebody says that to you, what -- that's my little girl there on the left-hand side. That's Sophia. What do you think about?

And he said, I think about a fight. And I thought, thank goodness, because that will make this conversation a lot easier. For my daughter she's only 9 years old and it was actually a much simpler conversation than I originally thought it was going to be. I asked her what do you think about when you hear breast cancer and she said I think about people's hair falling out and I think about them being sick.

I said my hair's not going to fall out and I'm not going to get sick and she said to me, why did you want that picture of me that you asked me for to send you and I thought, great, we've moved on, you know. So that fear that women are going to have about talking to their kids there are ways to do that. There are ways to be empowered also.

And I cannot say enough, Elizabeth, that our own web site, I have an incredible family here at CNN, who is totally supportive, and there's so much information on our website for women who are struggling with this. And surround yourself with women.

Because at the end of the day they're the ones who are going to help you get through this, as well. Great men, also, I'm going to give kudos to John Berman because he's been incredibly supportive. But the women here really, they can walk you through this process like nobody else can.

COHEN: Zoraida, what you're saying is so important because it's important, whatever diagnosis it is to know someone else has been in your place before you. Someone else has gone through this before you. Get in touch with them. They may be across the country but get in touch with them because they can give you so much wisdom. I can't even tell you how many patients told me I made the right decision because I talked to someone who has been in my shoes before I was in my shoes.

BERMAN: Angelina Jolie she had Brad Pitt with her. You've got your own family.

SAMBOLIN: I do. You are not alone is all I have to say.

BERMAN: All of us right here by your side with you very much leading the way. Zoraida Sambolin, thanks to you. Elizabeth Cohen, our thanks to you. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: We're learning more this morning about the brother of Leila Fowler. That brother is now under arrest in the stabbing death of his 8-year-old sister. A fellow student and a school administration source say the 12-year-old boy was suspended for five days earlier this year after bringing a pocket knife to school.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in Valley Springs, California with the latest on this investigation. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The fact that he brought that knife to school and was suspended is sort of a noteworthy development given the fact that he's accused of stabbing his sister with a knife. We're also getting a better sense of what may lie ahead for the suspect in the months ahead.


SIMON (voice-over): Chris Peifer knows the 12-year-old suspect from gym class.

(on camera): You said he made threats to you and others in gym class?


SIMON: Can you tell me about the threats?

PEIFER: He'd say like I'll stab you if you don't -- he'd just say he would stab us, messing around.

SIMON (voice-over): Peifer called the threats light hearted, but told us of an incident earlier in the academic year when the 12-year-old brought a knife to school.

(on camera): Did you see the knife?


SIMON: Did he show it to friends and classmates?

PEIFER: He showed it to kids.

SIMON: Was it a little Swiss army knife? Like a little pocket knife?


SIMON: What happened?

PEIFER: He was like showing it to people and so then he gave it to -- someone told on him and he went to the office.

SIMON (voice-over): It landed him a five-day suspension. The boy seen here at a candlelight vigil, days after the killing, had some people suspicious at the outset.

PENNY KILGORE, PARENT: We kept kind of behind closed doors as saying, you know, we thought it was him.

SIMON: The young boy told investigators an intruder stabbed his 8- year-old sister Leila while his parents were at a Little League baseball game. Penny Kilgore's daughter also knows the suspect from school. She thought it seemed strange that the killer would only target Leila and spare the brother's life.

KILGORE: You don't kill a person and then leave a witness, you know? And that's why we kept saying that, you know, they're not going to leave him alive if there was somebody else that did it. He witnessed this guy. So in my heart, I thought it was him from get-go.

SIMON: The boy is currently being held at a juvenile detention center.

BRIAN CHAVEZ-OCHOA, ATTORNEY: Because the child in this particular case is 12 years of age, he cannot be tried as an adult. If he was 14 years of age or older, of course, and because of the allegations that I'm certain will be raised here, he could have been tried as an adult.

SIMON: Attorney Brian Chavez-Ochoa has represented minors in cases involving serious crimes.

OCHOA: These proceedings are going to take place behind closed doors. This isn't going to be an open trial like it would be if he was an adult. In this case, the public is not going to be allowed into the proceedings.


SIMON: And if the 12-year-old is charged and convicted of murder, the law in California is that he would remain in custody until the age of 25. And, John, we're beginning to hear something from the family, the father of the 12-year-old telling the Associated Press that he believes his son is innocent, and will continue to believe so until he sees some evidence that proves otherwise -- John. BERMAN: It has to be so difficult for that family. Dan Simon in Valley Springs, California, thanks so much, Dan, for being with us.

It's 46 minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on STARTING POINT, just awful moment on the field when Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper smashes into a wall at full speed. We're going to have an update on his condition, next.

ROMANS: Plus don't expect any wild antics on this trip to the "Jersey Shore," a look at Prince Harry's visit to check out the Superstorm Sandy recovery effort.

BERMAN: And next hour, is a Disney princess getting a bit so sexy of a makeover? We're going to talk with the creator and director of "Brave" about why she's not happy at all with this new look. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Prince Harry has been busy crisscrossing the United States. Today, he will be in Seaside Heights in New Jersey visiting the devastated residential area hit hard by Hurricane Sandy back in October.

Max Foster is CNN's royal correspondent. A very different trip than the last time he was here. That was intentional?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: They are calling it the rehab tour because of what happened in Vegas.

ROMANS: I can't remember what happened in Vegas.

FOSTER: It was a private visit that became very public, but this is about rebuilding his image. He's doing really well. The tour is going really well. Today, quite interesting because he knows that it's gone really well, a lot of great publicity and you know, not always easy appearing in front of the cameras and have to be a natural.

He does that really well and he's very good at the tours. I was standing next to him, and he is having fun. The event of the weekend, Warrior Games, it's the core part of the week for him. Today will be quite fun as well.

BERMAN: So what we have in the schedule?

FOSTER: So he is going to see Sandy. He does -- when he's in the military, working alongside American soldiers and they told him about Sandy. And Governor Christie will show him around, and he will be one of the last people see the roller coaster that will be dismantled.

Then he is going to meet up with David Cameron, promoting British trade. And someone in the foreign office, struggling to get publicity for David Cameron, but Prince Harry no problem. A big moment for the prime minister as well.

BERMAN: Think about this trip, on the same trip, you know, we saw him with John McCain. We've seen with Wounded Warriors. They saw him with Michelle Obama. Today, Chris Christie, athletes and then his own prime minister, David Cameron. What like a varied itinerary?

FOSTER: Yes, they chose based on his charities, his interests and a baseball game today. He will encourage people to gain confidence through playing sports so that's one thing. And then the trade events are very much representing the British government. So he brings in some big names to promote the U.K.

ROMANS: The advantage for Chris Christie, he gets more attention on the Jersey shore. A lot of towns including Seaside Heights are very keen to get things back up and running so we can spend money.

FOSTER: He is very appreciative that Prince Harry is putting it back on the news agenda.

BERMAN: These tours, Prince Harry does it with the smile?

FOSTER: He has a problem some would say with the media. He talks about how much pressure Diana was under, and saw that growing up, poignant images of him walking behind the coffin.

ROMANS: He blames the media for her death?

FOSTER: I think he blames paparazzi for her death, yes. But he also has this -- reads everything written about him and a lot of publications that make things up. But he tends to put it together in the media. We meet him, he has a good relationship with us, but generally, he wants the media to be there to promote his causes, but not too much away.

ROMANS: There is paparazzi, sleaze media, and he lumps us all together.

FOSTER: He reads the comments on the articles, which isn't good for anyone.

BERMAN: Max Foster, we think you do a terrific job. Thank you so much for being here. It's great to see you in person.

FOSTER: It's great to be here.

BERMAN: It's 53 minutes after the hour right now. It was a big night for people in Boston last night, a huge, historic night. The Boston Bruins made a comeback like no NHL team has ever done before. Jared Greenberg is here now with more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hi, Jared.


BERMAN: I got the towel. Go Bs.

GREENBERG: If you don't like playoff hockey, maybe these highlights will change your mind. The Boston Bruins had lost two straight. Monday night, Toronto cruising toward the second round, up three goals with under 11 minutes to play, but then Boston scored two straight to get within one, now under a minute to go, Bergeron, a blast and a beauty and a probable combat. Two goals in the final 90 seconds to force overtime.

First team to score wins. Bergeron, comes through again, game over, series over. Bruins become the first team to ever win a game seven when trailing by three in the third. Boston advances to face the New York Rangers.


PATRICE BERGERON, SCORED OT GAME WINNING GOAL: We stood resilient. I guess, that's what I can say. We found a way, and not necessarily the way we would have liked to play the whole game, but you know, like I said, we showed some character coming back in the game.


GREENBERG: Elation in Boston, bewilder meant in Toronto the choke's on us. The hockey-crazed city hasn't seen a Stanley Cup champion since 1967. Heat/Bulls game was a joke, but Dwayne Wade was seriously wearing this, a polka dot suit with capri pants and loafers. That's a confident man.

No stylist yet owning up to picking out that outfit and things really only getting weirder. Here's the most entertaining part of the game, the halftime show. Non-basketball highlights and the basketball highlight because this one was ugly. The Bulls scoring on the wrong hoop here. The Heat held the bulls to 33 points in the first half and nine in the third quarter.

And Miami leads the series three games to one, can close this one out on Wednesday. The number one right now on's line up, scary moment for Nationals star outfielder, Brice Harper, you don't see this too often. Harper goes face first into the wall. Typically, this will happens when an outfielder leaves his feet. Harper runs right into the wall.

He would leave the game. Stitches required to his chin, but no concussion thankfully and Harper is OK, of course, relatively speaking. Nationals did go on to beat the Dodgers. John, 1,000 miles south here in Atlanta of you in New York, I would like to request, because I'm all the way down here, you take that Bruins towel out to the streets of New York and see what type of reception you get and we'll film it.

BERMAN: You know, it's not like there is any bad blood between New York fans and Boston fans. He ran right into the wall, Bryce Harper.

GREENBERG: Usually you use the warning track. He seemed oblivious to the fact. Very strange that he didn't leave his feet like you talked about and that's how he would make contact, very strange, and he was dazed and confused. Obviously, you can see he was bloodied.

Once again, stitches under his chin, he's OK. And the Nationals saying maybe he will miss a game or two, but thankfully for one of the bright young stars of the game, he shouldn't miss much more time than that.

BERMAN: Lucky, he has no concussion. All right, Jared Greenberg, great to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, more on the stunning revelation from actress, Angelina Jolie, going public with the news she had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure.

BERMAN: And sisters reunited after nearly two decades apart. The incredible story of how they found each other coming up. You are watching STARTING POINT.