Wendy Bailey, Derwood, MD
My father is a BC survivor. I have BRCA 2. Did Ooph first after having 2 beautiful children. Then PBM in 2009.
I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:
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When we found out my father had breast cancer we didn't know men could get it. My aunts, his sisters, both lost their lives to breast and ovarian cancer. When my dad got sick for some reason it got more real than ever before. Then we found out about BRCA ...we knew there was a link and thankfully I was able to get tested as was my sister through a family study. We both have BRCA 2 and my older brother has yet to be tested. That was 14 years ago. My journey was keeping my BRCA status a secret so I wouldn't lose my insurance. Asking my doctors to be creative when they signed off on my mammogram at the age of 26. I saw 6 oncologists who gave me 6 different % of risk equations. My favorite was the one who told me to have my family, be vigilant, and learn as much as I could about surveillance. So I did. I even joined a study at NIH for women with BRCA which gave me added comfort. Then after having my 2nd child, I had my ovaries removed. Shortly after that they found some suspicious calcifications on a mammogram....then another scare the following year - both benign but each scare came with its own set of "what ifs" 3 of my friends in 1 year were diagnosed with BC and that was my final straw. I scheduled my PBM and I am now 4 years post surgery, feeling great and healthy.
The hardest part of my journey
Feeling guilty has been the hardest part. So many of my friends and some family have faced BC without having the opportunity to make the choices I have made as a previvor. I do not regret my decision - I took charge of my health - but I do feel for them that cancer got to them first. Thankfully the other hard part of the journey - the not being able to tell part due to it just being risky in terms of losing insurance, etc. is now behind me and now I like telling my story in hopes people will know that there are ways to take charge and knowledge is power.
If I could do it over again
I might choose nipples....but maybe not. Right now - I look like Barbie :-) Every year my surgeon asks me if I want the tatoos but I think that would be like painting a doorknob on a door that doesn't open and I'm okay with not having them....but if I had to do it again, maybe I'd have that last part of the process done.
My participation with FORCE
YES!!! Several years ago I posted that I was 33 and about to have my Ooph and I had 30 responses. Then I found a woman just like me - same age, 2 kids, and we did our study together at NIH. FORCE has been my guiding FORCE many times over the years and I am proud to be a member.
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