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Marla Brichta, Northbrook, Illinois

     

  Voices of Force

Age: 61

After prophylactic breast surgery the pathology came back with a very early DCIS in one breast. I saved my life, no other treatment needed!!!

 

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My journey

When my mother was 50 she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer and had both breasts removed. Thank goodness she is alive today, 32 years later. My maternal g-maw had bilateral breast cancer as did my great aunt, both of them dying from the breast cancer. I was 30 when my mom was diagnosed and began a journey of surveillence. Several years ago I was advised to see a genetic counselor. THere was no genetic testing at that time. I just had annual mammograms and biannual breast exams. When the BRCA test was available it took me a few years to decide to be tested. My results came back positive and immediately I had my ovaries and tubes removed. I decided that I would continue the surveillance of the breasts. Four years later I saw a new doctor and he really turned the tide of my debating whether or not to have prophylactic surgery. I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction- immediate implants inserted. I really wanted my mother to be tested but she said "why" we know our family history is so strong, I certainly have the gene mutation. I discovered FORCE right before my breast surgery. The Chicago community is so strong and supportive- Especially Heather Fineman and Ziva Green-Kredow. After my surgery I became involved in FORCE- I went to a meeting where two woman talked about the fact that their mother had breast cancer and tested negative so they did not take the test. Both sisters were diagnosed with BC and then tested. Both were positive for the gene. Their father had prostate cancer and their gene mutation came from dad. After that meeting I convinced my mom a 30 year survivor to test. She was negative. My father had died of Prostate cancer at 60. My gene came from my dad's side. I felt strongly that I had an obligation to educate my dad's side of the family on the BRCA mutation.I believe that women commonly think it is only BRCA is only passed through the female.

The hardest part of my journey

I believe the hardest part was that the reconstruction surgery I opted for was at the time called one step reconstruction and because my healing process was delayed on one side, I was so upset that I had to have multiple surgeries after the first one. I thought I'd have my bilateral mastectomies and reconstruction and be done. Unfortunately, I had three surgeries.

If I could do it over again

Probably not.

My participation with FORCE

FORCE was the best support system I could have ever had. I received so much support during my surgeries and post operatively that I wanted to give back and got involved as a coordinator. FORCE was the greatest gift I ever received. VERY dear friends have resulted from my involvement in FORCE.

Other thoughts

No one has to go through their BRCA journey alone-WHen you know about FORCE, you will have others who have walked in your shoes- a guarantee of understanding and empathy.

 


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