Nina Garcia opens up about her preventative double mastectomy

The Elle magazine editor-in-chief and "Project Runway" judge is sharing her story in hopes of making other women feel like they are not alone.
6:01 | 04/18/19

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Transcript for Nina Garcia opens up about her preventative double mastectomy
and who wouldn't want some help? Thank you, lama. Take care. When you hear the name, Nina gars yarks you probably hear fashion. She's the longest running judge on "Project runway." After revealing in "Elle" magazine, a personal choice to undergo a double mastectomy, we sat down two months after that surgery. She is recovering well and she's ready to share her story. To my surprise and horror, I got that envelope that said, positive. Reporter: Nina Garcia, sharing a daunting moment which so many face. Finding out in 2015 she has a braca gene mutation. So many thoughts raced through my mind. Why me? Why? What does this mean? Reporter: Although not a cancer diagnosis, a gene mutation can increase the risk for breast cancer. It weighed heavily on the mother of two. Every six months, I would get tested. The last three years there was ambiguous information. Abnormal cells. There was a scar. The news started to get worse. In January, I decided I wanted to opt for a double mastectomy. I don't think it's a choice that every woman should make, but with my history it was the right decision for me. It was a personal choice. Reporter: And after making that difficult decision to have a double mastectomy, Nina who lives her life in the public eye had the added challenge with grappling with revealing something so private. It's February. Fashion week is about to begin. I feel like I'm carrying this big burden and this big secret. Will I look weaker to my staff? Will I miss such an important moment that is fashion week for me as the editor of "Elle"? What got you through those dark moments? Speaking to my husband first. He was the first one who said, you have got to share this. And I also began to, you know, share it with my friends, and it all of a sudden -- it was, like, it was a turnkey effect. Everything shifted, and I felt this incredible community. It was just a sisterhood, and I had a lot of inspiration from women like you. I have been taking notes, rob. I took notes. Reporter: In 2008, she was there for me during this segment just days after chemo for my breast cancer treechlt. I walked out on the runway and into the spotlight for the first time without the comfort of my wig. I think you know it better than anybody. Reporter: Now it comes full circle as she shares her story in hopes to support and educate others. I am in a business that is so about perfection, and it's changing. Thankfully it's changing. I also thought it was very important to stand up and be, like, you know what? We are not perfect. I think the message is the technology and the science is there. For that woman at home that hasn't had her mammogram, that hasn't had a sonogram, to get for that woman at home that has a history of breast cancer in their family, to get the br a, ca gene test. I think it's so important. It's as much mental as physical when going through something like this, and to have the right attitude about it is immeasurable. The mindset of being grateful, of not being why did it happen to me, but I am so thankful that I was able to do something about it. Reporter: Nina is now back on the job and back on TV in the 17th season of "Project runway." You're telling a story through your clothes. Reporter: And she's ready to take on this next chapter of her life with a new perspective. What did you learn about yourself? I learned that I could be very brave. I'm strong. I think the most invaluable lesson is that you have got to share your stories. So grateful. So grateful to Nina for sharing her story, and you can see her on "Project runway" Thursday nights on bravo. As promised, Dr. Jen is back. You do this type of testing. Yeah. In your office. Tell us more about that. Yeah. Robin, I get the question all the time. So and so in my family had breast cancer. Should I have this genetic testing? Right now the answer is no. This test is not for everyone. There is a long list of criteria that we use as a red flag so to speak to see if someone should be tested. Take a look at this list. It's part of the list. If you have any male breast cancer in the family, ovarian cancer anywhere in the family, someone who was diagnosed with breast chancer at a young age before the age of 50, and then people with jewish ancestry, and multiple relatives with breast, ovarian, prostate or melanoma, that makes you a good candidate. What don't people understand about the test? Oh my gosh, robin. So much. Number one, that men carry the braca mutation. They get breast chancer, and they can pass it. 50/50 chance to their son or number two, that it's not just breast cancer, robin. Breast cancer we can screen for. Other mutations that it increases the risk for. Prostate, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and we don't have a good screening test, and it's not just the brca mutation. We have others growing and also that increase the risk for breast and other cancers. How do you increase those chances? You need genetic counseling and a good ob/gyn. Treatment, versus surveillance. Thank you so much, and Dr. Jen will answer your questions live on Facebook.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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