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Fighting hereditary breast and ovarian cancer
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Elise M V, Malibu, California

     

 

Age: 50

I'm 50, married 23 years with four children.

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

Other favorites?
My favorite genre of books is biographical novels. I love learning about other people's life and journeys. Probably my favorite is "Lust for Life," about Vincent Van Gogh's challenging life. It's an oldie but goodie!

 

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My journey

Found out about BRCA2+ status less than 6 months ago. Tested because my mother died at the age of 32 from breast cancer, when I was only 6 years of age. Recently, I have been struggling with a Uterine fibroid, hemorrhaging, anemia, etc. My doctor recommended controlling the symptoms until menopause, unless I was BRCA positive. He said if I test positive I should take the uterus and ovaries out. I have thought about genetic testing for years and have been vigilant about screening since I was 25 years old, but was in denial about my chances of getting breast cancer. I thought it was just a fluke that my mom died as my maternal grandmother lived a long healthy cancer-free life. I am not in denial any longer. I had my ovaries and uterus out on March 2, 2009. I have not had cancer. I also continue with increased surveillance (breast MRI, mammogram, and ultrasound).

The hardest part of my journey

Just coming to terms with my destiny and deciding to be proactive and go forward with an elective surgery to avoid the chances of contracting ovarian cancer. One of the biggest fears for me was going straight into menopause without the help of hormone replacement therapy. I have had two c-sections so the effects of menopause was the unknown factor that scared me the most. I am now considering a prophylactic mastectomy.

My participation with FORCE

FORCE was a comfort when I first found out I was BRCA 2 positive. The website answered many questions I had and viewing profiles of women in my situation helped me make the hard decision to take control of my life and eliminate the chances of contracting ovarian cancer. I am now looking to the website for additional information on my options regarding a prophylactic mastectomy.

Other thoughts

I am happily married and the mother of four beautiful children -- Alex 18, Nick 15, and Helena and Marie, 13, are identical twins! I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated from San Diego State University. I owned and ran a national Public Relations firm for many years until the birth of my twins, when I decided to become a full-time mom. At that time I decided to pursue a life long love of making art. I stone sculpt and oil paint. My work has been featured in solo and group exhibits. I also love to cook, hike, walk along the beach with my girlfriends, hang out with my kids and volunteer at my children's school.

 


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