Suzanne Stevens, Belmont, New Hampshire
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 and died at the age of 42. In March of 2009 I learned I was BRCA-1 positive.
I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:
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I learned I was BRCA-1 positive in March 2009. Had a prophylactic laparoscopic hysterectomy with BSO on May 29, 2009. The surgery went well, "text book" as the surgeon said, and I went home to heal after one night in the hospital. About two weeks after the surgery, I developed a ureteral injury and was re-admitted to the hospital to surgically have a stent placed in my ureter to aid in healing the injury. The stent stayed in for 6 weeks and was very uncomfortable. At the same time I was in the hospital having the stent placed, I learned the pathology results from my hysterectomy.... they found a 2.5 millimeter, Stage IA tumor in my fallopian tube. There was no indication of it spreading and the peritoneal wash was negative. However, because of my BRCA-1 status, the doctors felt I should undergo some preventive chemotherapy. I was absolutely devastated. I am the mother of two boys, ages 9 and 12, and all I could think was that I was going to die young like my mom and wouldn't get to see my boys grow up. I had planned to have a prophylactic mastectomy in September but the chemotherapy had to take precedence. I began chemotherapy at the end of July 2009, and had 6 treatments, each three weeks apart. I finished in the middle of November 2009. The whole experience was pure hell! It has taken a few months, but I now feel great and have even started going to the gym five days a week. My hair is growing back, not as fast as I'd like though! My oncologist says he doesn't think I'll ever have a reoccurence, but I will never stop worrying about it. I feel very fortunate, however, that the tumor was found at such an early stage. Had I not gone forward with the prophylactic hysterectomy, it may have been too late by the time the tumor surfaced. I'm planning to have a prophylactic mastectomy in September 2010. In the meantime, I alternate having mammograms and breast MRI's every 6 months.
The hardest part of my journey
The most difficult part of my journey was learning that a cancerous tumor had been found, dealing with all of the emotions that go along with it, and the side effects of the chemotherapy.
If I could do it over again
I wouldn't do one thing differently. I almost had the prophylactic mastectomy first and I'm so glad I didn't. I feel like there was an angel on my shoulder (my mom perhaps) that led me in the right direction.
My participation with FORCE
I found the FORCE website after learning I was BRCA-1 positive. FORCE has provided a wealth of information and support to me, especially reading other womens' stories and perusing the message boards.
I never would've gotten through this journey without my wonderful and supportive husband, family, friends and co-workers. Also, going through this has made me a stronger person and I have a totally different outlook on life. I don't sweat the small stuff anymore.
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