There are so many stories on FORCE and so many members willing to share their experiences. We hope these profiles can help you connect with our community and get advice from people like you!
Recognizing that I don't identify myself by my individual body parts.
I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:
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Having had a mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 54, her identical twin being diagnosed at age 49, my father passing from colon cancer at age 56, his only sibling being diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 40s, my being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and never having had children, the radiologist who read my most recent mammogram suggested that I meet with a genetic counselor to discuss being tested for the BRCA gene. All of my relatives have passed and none of them were tested for the gene. I will forever be grateful to my radiologist.
I met with the genetic counselor, was tested that day and the test came back positive for BRCA 1. After the genetic counselor gave me my result and explained what it meant, I only had one question: Do you have doctors to recommend to me for surgeries? I wasn't in the least upset with or scared by my diagnosis. I was grateful that the test exists, that I was tested and that I had options that would greatly minimize my risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. That was on September 30, 2011. In October I met with a gynecological oncologist, a breast surgeon and a plastic surgeon (all of whom came highly recommended).
In November I had a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy, reducing my risk of developing both ovarian and breast cancers. In January I had a bilateral mastectomy with latissimus dorsi flap. The only reconstruction I had was to "put Humpty Dumpty back together again," as I call it. So now part of my back is part of my chest. I find it fascinating. In a year I'll have a series of outpatient liposuction procedures to fill in the concave areas of my chest. Having always had large breasts and never being comfortable with them, I have chosen not to have reconstruction to rebuild my breasts. I call what I have my "little pillows."
Gratefully all of my biopsies were benign and my recoveries have been excellent. It's amazing how strong the human body can be.
The irony of it all is that I have had three breast reduction surgeries. I want refunds!!!
I am now a FORCE helpline volunteer. It is my chance to "give back." I am thrilled to be able to help others who are experiencing what I have already gone through. Any fear I can alleviate and any information I can provide to a person in need makes me feel that my journey was a worthwhile one.
I hope that FORCE reaches out to more people all the time. FORCE's support system and abundance of medical resources are WONDERFUL!!!