- Posted October 5, 2012 by
Idaho Falls, Idaho
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tested for the breast cancer gene?
34 and BRCA+
- Jamescia, CNN iReport producer
In the midst of Christy's treatment, I realized I needed to be screened for the BRCA gene. At the time she was diagnosed, I was a single mom and self-insured and didn't want to run the risk of my insurance company dropping me or my insurance premiums sky-rocketing (which they did) if I tested positive for the BRCA gene. I was also busy helping with Christy's care as a nurse and trying to support her through her ordeal. In October, when the cancer metastasized to her brain and spine, Christy begged me to be tested so I wouldn't have to go through what she and her family were suffering. After much apprehension (and denial) I was tested and the results came back positive. However, Christy and my children were my #1 priority at that time and I was far too busy to take any further action.
By December, it became clear that we were losing Christy quickly. She desperately wanted me to have a mastectomy and hysterectomy as I was also the carrier of the gene. She told me to do it for our daughters. At that particular time I was not married, 34 years old, working full-time, with two beautiful kids and dating a wonderful man. I didn't want to become disfigured or have a personality change due to hormonal problems or to gain weight or any of the other negative factors which treatment could include. Yet I knew I had to be around for my two kids.
My boyfriend/fiancee at that time and I discussed things together and after a lot of research I decided to have the skin-sparing mastectomy. I chose this method to hopefully cut back on any disfigurement it might cause. I had the double mastectomy but unfortunately had several complications as a result of it. In addition, I was a newlywed and I was afraid of the emotional, physical, and sexual changes that are said to be associated with surgery-induced menopause. As a result I opted to put off my hysterectomy surgery. My oncologist/gynecologist advised me to have the CA-125 blood test and pelvic ultrasounds done quarterly. Although there is no evidence to support screening with CA-125 or the pelvic ultrasound, those were my only options.
Because of my doctor's and family's insistence, I am now scheduled for hysterectomy surgery on October 26. I have felt isolated and ashamed and was happy to see that there are others out there fighting this same battle with me. I can't express the relief I felt to see there were BRCA support groups out there for people like me.
I don't want Christy's life to be in vain. She was a brave, intelligent, beautiful person and I miss her every day. If my story could possibly be helpful in any way in the fight against breast cancer, I would willingly share it.