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Leslie , Phoenix, Az

     

  Voices of Force

Age: 27

I am BRCA1 positive, single, with no children. I discovered my status 3 yrs ago. I am currently using surveilance until I am ready for surgeries!

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

Favorite Superhero:
My mom! Her bravery is amazing to witness.

 

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My journey

I always knew I had a strong "family history", many family members have died from cancers, (prostate and breast). My mom was initially diagnosed 17 yrs ago at age 32 with breast cancer and then almost 3 yrs ago it came back and she was in a short remission only to have it recur again last year. My mom is now Stage 4 Metastatic and trying to live with cancer. With her 2nd recurrence, she was tested and came back positive for the BRCA1 mutation. My brother and I immediately tested and were both found to be positive. I felt such tremendous relief when I was given my test results! It was such a release of the fear I lived in, knowing I was positive allowed me to gain some kind of control over my health and my life. I was no longer living with the fear of what if or when, but what am I going to do to stop this. With this new knowledge I immediately scheduled an appointment for the screening recommendations given to me by my genetic counselor. I am always nervous waiting for my results, but feel better knowing that I am doing everything I can to screen myself. I am planning to have prophylactic masectomies and hysterectomy when I turn 30, I feel if I wait any longer than that, it may be too late. I have also started excercising more and eating better, because despite what "genes" I was given, I have the power to be proactive and save my own life!

The hardest part of my journey

One of the tough parts of this journey is the feeling that I don't have all the time in the world to do some things. Some of the plans I made for life now have to be fast forwarded because I am on a time crunch. I thought I had more time to have kids, but the longer I wait, is the longer I wait for a hysterectomy, which is not good. So my personal cut off is 30, no exceptions! Despite this feeling, it has allowed me to re-prioritze my life, things that I thought were so important aren't anymore. I have learned to value what is really important to me.

The hardest part of my journey hasn't been for myself, but for my family. Despite my mom providing my family with her genetic results and encouraging them to be tested, none of them did. Unfortunately, since my mom's 2nd recurrence and genetic test results, 3 more of my family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is difficult to watch those I love suffer.

If I could do it over again

I have no regrets, everything happens for a reason!

My participation with FORCE

After learning my results, I immediately went online to find out what resources were available to me and to educate myself about my condition. That was when I discovered FORCE, it was amazing to see so many others were just like me! I didn't feel so alone and the information I get from them and the updates have been wonderful! I was able to let my mom know about studies and new meds to help her and find out more info to educate people on BRCA genes. I post the website and the info I get from them on my social networking sites whenever I can. I work in the healthcare field and whenever I speak to someone who has a cancer that might be linked to a BRCA mutation, I tell them to look into testing and refer them to FORCE.

Other thoughts

I hope that by sharing my story and experiences I can encourage people to test and become educated on their options. Testing is the first step, what they do with it is up to them. Prevention is better than reaction!

 


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