Like Angelina Jolie, Annie Parker has the BRCA1 gene mutation known to cause breast and ovarian cancer. She was among the first women to test positive for it in the early '90s.
While some have openly questioned Jolie's choice to undergo a preventive double mastectomy last year, the actress has Parker's full support. Characterized as an unnecessary drastic measure by Jolie's detractors, the Oscar winner saw it as a way "to minimize the risk as much I could."
"I'm the Angelina Jolie of 30 years ago," Annie Parker, 63, tells Yahoo Movies.
If she were diagnosed now, Parker says she would do the same as Jolie and have the elective surgeries. "That's exactly the approach that I would take today," she says, adding that she projects Jolie will have her ovaries removed, too.
Parker's real-life story of survival is the subject of the new film "Decoding Annie Parker," starring Samantha Morton as Parker. (See the new trailer above.)
Parker has survived three bouts of cancer and, like Jolie, too, lost her mother to the disease. She also lost her sister and cousin to breast cancer.
In 1980, when she was first diagnosed — more than a decade before it was scientifically proven — Parker just knew there was a hereditary element to her condition. "I am a very stubborn woman who felt there had to be something more to this than just extremely bad luck."
But when she first posed the idea to doctors, they thought she was crazy. Literally. "They told me I was a hypochondriac, that I needed psychiatric help — which I did."
Refusing to take no as an answer, Parker immersed herself in emerging research. "It was an obsession on my part. I spent a lot of time in libraries," she says.
That's how she came to learn of geneticist Mary-Claire King (played by Oscar-winner Helen Hunt in the film), who was on the verge of proving Parker's hunch indubitably.
It would still take several years until Parker could be tested for the BRCA (pronounced "bracka") gene mutation. And when she finally took the test in 1994, it took two years to get the results. "Today women or men can get their test results in a matter of days or weeks," she says. "Women have options, which is fantastic. These are options I didn't have.
"I know I'm alive today to tell this story, to tell people to be tested for the BRCA gene," she says. "I don't want anyone to suffer the way I had to suffer."
"Decoding Annie Parker" will be in select cities and available on demand on May 2.