Barb R., Newark, OH
I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:
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Found out about BRCA1+ status 6 months to 1 year ago. My maternal grandmother and her sister were both diagnosed with breast cancer in their early to mid 40's. My mom's sister was diagnosed at 39. When my mom was 43, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she died 8 months later. My uncle was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at 35 and died at 38. Both of my mother's siblings and herself were affected, with my aunt being the lone survivor of her generation. In addition, pancreatic cancer has shown up twice in my family, as well as one incident of brain cancer, esophageal cancer and colon cancer. I had a prophylactic mastectomy. In October, 2008 I underwent a PBM with tissue expanders. I received my implants in December, but by January I began having trouble with one side. I had a capsular contracture and had surgery to replace the implant. This time my implant moved high in my chest and began to develop capsular contacture again, so we chose to remove the implant for approximately 3 months. We replaced the implant in May using Allo-derm, but unfortunately I again developed a capsular contracture. It seems my body is rejecting the implants! For now I'm suffering through with this implant and in early 2010 I will most likely undergo tram flap surgery to rid my body of foreign objects!
The hardest part of my journey
The hardest part has been watching all of my family members die and worrying about putting that stress on my family when I go. I'd like to say that I did all I could do to prevent a cancerous death. A second hardest thing has been that my dearest cousin and best friend tested negative for BRCA. We have shared so much and this is one major thing that we don't share and it bothers us both. She feels left out, as if her fears have not been addressed with her negative results, and I feel as if I'm flaunting my positive results when I talk about my participation in groups. I would like to include her more and make this journey together.
If I could do it over again
I would have been more health-conscious earlier in life. I've always been a bigger girl and it's hard to change your habits the older you get!
My participation with FORCE
It has helped me to understand that my every feeling I have is normal, and someone else out there can understand me. Now I want to share my experiences and help others!
I am very passionate about my interests, and have helped support brain cancer research at Children's Hospital. I want to continue my fundraising and awareness of brain cancer research while starting a Columbus, Ohio area support group for women like me.
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