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Michelle B., Riverside, CA

     

 

Age: 38

BRCA 1+ Mommy of twins who is going through with the preventative surgery despite some family opposition. Yes. You read that right.

I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:

Favorite book / authors:
Hunger Games Series

Favorite TV / Movies:
Big Bang Theory / Sons of Anarchy

Favorite Quote:
"But I do believe that's when you do your soul-searching. I think when you have these trials that life gives you, it is an opportunity to find out who you are. Not just who you are when everything's great, but who are you when every thing is taken away fr

Favorite Song:
Beautiful Tragedy by In This Moment

Favorite Superhero:
Wonder Woman, of course!

 

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My journey

In June, 2013 I embarked on a gastric bypass surgery. One month following that surgery, I went in for my annual pap smear. At that appointment, my doctor (who was new for me) had reviewed my family health history.

My mother had breast cancer at the age of 39 years old. My sister had uterine cancer at 29 years old. My aunt had ovarian cancer at 25 years old. This is just the women in my immediate family. Add that with grandparents who all have passed from some sort of cancer and I was a prime candidate for BRCA testing.

I reached out to my Mother to fill out the form and ensure my cancer history recollection was accurate. When she inquired about why I wanted this information I explained. Her reaction? She urged me to not get the test. She said that she believed she had gotten cancer because of the hormone therapy she was on for many years following her hysterectomy. She then indicated my oldest sister had the BRCA testing as did she two years ago and that they are both positive but since it doesn't make it 100% certain you will get cancer that it's an unnecessary process to go through. Furthermore she said, "All they want to do is take out all the parts that make you a woman!"

I called my older sister and she felt the same. Although, her opinions are now starting to shift because she's got numerous other health problems and she doesn't want cancer on top of that. So she is now considering a double mastectomy as well.

On August 15th, my results came in: BRCA 1+. I didn't even bother to call my Mother or oldest sister. They know. They knew all along. I reached out to all the women in my family and armed them with this much needed information. My OBGYN has been AMAZING. He's super supportive and ready to help me in whatever way he can. I'm lucky to have him or I may not even know.

Yesterday, October 1st, I had my surgery consultation. It's scary. Very scary. Here's the thing: I'm MORE SCARED of cancer killing me early than I am of no longer having my own breasts or my ovaries. I'm MORE SCARED of not seeing my children grow up. They deserve a Mommy and I'll be damned if I'll let cancer take that away from me.

I had gastric bypass to lengthen my life. I'll have a mastectomy to save my life. I'll have a hysterectomy to save my life. -- all for Abby and Ryan.

The hardest part of my journey

A few things - the lack of support from my Mother due to her own ignorance. The idea of not having my breasts. The idea of having an early menopause. All these things are emotional hurdles and certainly not impossible to overcome. I'm still early in this process so it will take some time to come to terms.

If I could do it over again

So far, no. I'm very thoughtful and thorough in my decision-making. I think really thinking, meditating, and praying on these decisions for anyone is a priority in making regret-free decisions.

 


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