- Posted October 2, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tested for the breast cancer gene?
BRCA BORN - These Boobs Were Made For Walkin'!!!
She is almost a month post op from her surgery and is feeling great. She says having the surgery has been a huge relief as it enormously cuts down her chances of having breast or ovarian cancer. She has been keeping a blog and invites everyone to stop by if they’re interested.
previvoramy is filming a documentary that details her journey since finding out she has the breast cancer gene to the final recovery stages since having her surgery.
It was April 3, 2012 when I received the news that would change my life forever. After learning that my eldest sister was diagnosed at 38 years old with triple negative breast cancer due to a genetic gene mutation three months earlier, I suddenly felt immobilized by an abrupt rush of panic as my genetic counselor entered our waiting room. Nerves, skyrocketing at even the simplest sound such as the turning of a doorknob as she entered the room had my second oldest sister and I feeling uncertain and vulnerable. As she pulled out a box of tissues and hesitantly set them onto the round faux wooden table, I couldn’t help but notice a gathering of pamphlets and two overturned pieces of paper – which we very well knew housed our results. Vaguely remembering her exact verbiage, she hesitantly uttered that this day would be a difficult session, as one of us was negative for the BRCA gene mutation and the other was positive. As the counselor turned over and slid the first piece of paper across the table to my sister, my body went instantly numb, as I knew that the box of tissues and the informational BRCA pamphlets were for me.
I remember instinctively letting out an emotionless laugh, shocked to know that I was born with a genetic gene mutation that increases my odds of getting breast cancer to 87% as well as promises me a lifetime risk of ovarian cancer to be 47% - not to mention an increased risk for melanoma, colon cancer and (if I were a man) prostate cancer. I eagerly looked to my left and smiled at my big sister as she held my hand; both of us lost in what felt like a deadened panic – completely unsure of what to say, think or do next. But it was the squeeze of her hand and the rueful look on her face that triggered the tears that began to prick my eyes, and it was only moments later when the prickling in my scalp quickly followed suit.
After an emotional consumption of this BRCA news, the tears began to subside and our minds shot forth to survivor mode. “What is our next step from here?” my sister asked. Our genetic counselor went through the details from beginning to end and left absolutely nothing for me to question.
My eldest sister and I are what you would call BRCA2 positive. It significantly increases our risks for breast and ovarian cancer as well as other cancers – all pre-menopause. It is a gene mutation that was passed down to us from our dad who has fathered 5 children. Any parent with this gene mutation has a 50/50 chance of passing this on to their daughters or sons.
When we found out that this thing was even a thing at all, we were shocked. There wasn’t a single person in my family, nor a single one of my friends that knew about this “Breast Cancer Gene”. To me, the scariest part of this entire ordeal is the ovarian cancer risk, as that particular type of cancer is called the “silent killer”. So in my opinion, the term should actually be coined as the “This Sucks Gene”.
So on September 17th of this year, I underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction at 27 years old. I am now two weeks post op and I feel amazing. I had listened to and considered a broad spectrum of opinions and after listening to my own judgment and my own heart, I did what I felt was necessary for myself. Imagine knowing that your body has a deletion of a T somewhere in your DNA that promises you have only a 13% chance of not getting breast cancer before you reach menopause. What would you do? I, quite frankly, would rather not sit around every single day wondering if today is going to be the day.
After Googling myself to death over the last 5 months, desperately seeking out pictures of what I may possibly look like should I choose to move forward with a mastectomy at 27, I found nothing. I’m young. I’m still dating. I’m still self-conscious about my body. Insecurities would consume my thoughts forcing me to wonder how a boyfriend may view me intimately, or if another woman would call me fake behind my back for having a boob job, not knowing the underlying circumstance.
So after months of hiding behind excuses and after months of allowing myself to hole up into some of the darkest corners of my life, I decided to share my story. And in today’s world, there’s only one avenue to get that kind of point across – a blog! In less than 24 hours I gained 308 followers. To date I now have 354. 354 people in which some I don’t even know from Adam. My story has encouraged high risk women who’ve emailed me all the way from their hospital beds in Australia to thank me for giving them the courage to move forward with a prophylactic mastectomy to ensure they don’t have to battle cancer like their mother, or grandmother or sister. Women and men across the world are writing me from not only Australia, but from the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and of course right here in the good ole US of A, thanking me for sharing my journey as they feel they’ve now found a voice that can speak on their behalf.
Fathers and mothers have no clue that they’re passing this on to their children. 20-somethings that are BRCA positive have even told me they’re scared to tell people about their situation because they’re worried that someone will look at them like a ticking time bomb for death. But this doesn’t have to be that way! The more people are aware of the genetic testing that is available to them, the more opportunity they have to be proactive about their health. It’s time to prevent this disease from even happening in the first place – whether it’s prophylactic surgery or its consistent screenings at an even earlier point in your life.
Although my sister’s perfectly pristine skin allowed her to totally rock the no hair thing, the Sinead O’Connor look doesn’t sit quite as well with me and my heart shaped face! Think about how many women and men have had breast, ovarian, melanoma, prostate or colon cancer because of a gene mutation? What if they knew about it earlier than they did? KNOWING could have saved them from having to go through chemo. KNOWING could have saved their lives.
Blogging about my BRCA journey is my outlet. It’s helps me deal with this. It provides a constant reminder for myself as well as hundreds of other women that it’s not 1975 anymore – mastectomies and breast reconstruction are NOT what they used to be! Not only will most of us come out looking even better than we did before, but guess who’ll have the best boobs in the nursing home? That’s right, kids! Women and men alike will probably be climbing over their bridge tables to sneak a peek!
I encourage you to read my blog. I’m unapologetically sarcastic and humor is something that keeps me going. I feel blessed to have been dealt these cards. My only goal is to share my story in exchange for the hope of possibly saving someone else’s life – as my sister did for me. It’s time we start a new generation. A PREvivor GENEration! A generation that starts even earlier than early detection! I may have had a mastectomy at 27, but I now have a reduced risk for life. I’m NOT a survivor, I’m a PREvivor!
Your genes. Your decision. Your life.
Here’s to us!!!
Stay abreast and keep up with my journey at www.previvorgeneration.com