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Fighting hereditary breast and ovarian cancer
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Deanna C., Liberty, South Carolina



Age: 26

I'm 26 years old. Married for almost 8 years and have 2 sons, ages 5 and 3.

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

Favorite book / authors:
Any love story or mystery.

Favorite TV / Movies:
NCIS, Law and Order, CSI, the Young and the Restless

Favorite Song:
Sissy's Song by Alan Jackson (makes me think of my mother)


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My journey

I found out about BRCA1+ status April 2007. I tested because my great grandmother, grandmother at age 65, aunt at age 38, and cousin at age 29 passed away from breast cancer. My mother had it 4 times and passed away in May 2009. The cancer returned every 4 years and I lost her at age 57. My aunt also had ovarian cancer and my mother and uncle have had melanoma. I have not had cancer. I had managed my risk with increased surveillance until Feb. 2009. I had bilateral mastectomies with S-GAP reconstruction. I should have already had my phase 2 but I had to postpone it due to taking care of my mother. My surgery was in Feb. and we found out her cancer had returned that same month. I will have my phase 2 July 30. When I turn 35, I plan to have my ovaries removed. Until then, I will do close surveillance of them. I know my risk isn’t down to zero but it’s down to less than 3 percent and that is a huge load off my shoulders. Sure, I still worry and think about it, but I know I am doing all that I can and that’s the important thing. I can breathe easier because of it.

The hardest part of my journey

Losing family members to cancer. Especially losing my mother at such a young age. She loved my sons and spoiled them rotten. They will miss out on so much without their granny and I feel lost without her. I was able to have her by my side through my surgery and that meant a lot to me. She told me she was proud of me for doing such a big thing. It is such an emotional rollercoaster.

If I could do it over again

I wish the genetic testing had been around for my grandmother. I also wish my family had learned about it a long time ago and could have possibly spared my aunt, cousin, and mother from going through the fight with cancer. I am lucky to have learned about the genetic testing and been given the chance to live a longer life.

My participation with FORCE

Force has done a great thing bringing people together that need advice.
Anyone who would like to email me and talk about their experience or wants to know more about mine, please feel free: deanna_calhoun2002@yahoo.com

Other thoughts

I am blessed with two beautiful sons and a wonderful husband. Life is too precious to me to take any chances. I wanted to prevent the cancer and fight for my family's sake. They are my world and my strength and I know as long as I have them, I will fight and get through anything. I also have the courage of my mother with me. She fought for 11 years. I am thankful I was able to take my mother on a cruise before she passed away. She had always wanted to go on one and she had a great time. I have memories like that to cherish and hopefully, since I had my surgery, I will be able to give my sons lots of memories and one day, my grandkids as well.


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