Voices of FORCE

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!

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Laurie Searle, Atlanta, GA

Quick Info About Me


Age: 58

10 year BC survivor. Tested positive for BRAC2 Jan-2013. Had Ooph in Mar-2013; Preventative bilateral mastectomy with S-gap reconstruction Jul-2013

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

Favorite TV / Movies:
The Notebook

Favorite Song:
Keep On the Sunny Side

Other favorites?
My two pet kitties - Squeaky and Fidget.

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My journey

In 2003 I felt a lump in my left breast. A mammogram did not detect the lump so my surgeon decided to go in for a closer. Good thing he did. I had stage 1 breast cancer in my left breast, which was treated with a lumpectomy, chemotherapy (6 cycles @ 3 week intervals), and radiation (daily for 6 weeks).

Over the next 10 years my mother and two brothers all had some kind of cancer, so when I had my annual GYN appointment in Jan 2013, I asked my doctor, “What’s up with all the cancer in my family?” She suggested I get tested for BRCA. The test came back positive for BRCA2 (Result 6503deITT Deleterious).

I found the FORCE website and started reading about others and their journey with BRCA. After much consideration, I had a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy in March 2013; and preventative bilateral mastectomy in July 2013 with S-GAP flap breast reconstruction.

The hardest part of my journey

The hardest part of my journey was making the decision to have the preventative mastectomy and then deciding which type of reconstruction to have. At first I considered breast implants, but I wasn’t an ideal candidate since my left breast had been radiated. Then I considered flap reconstruction, but there wasn’t enough tissue from my tummy so my butt would be the donor site (called S-Gap flap). Once I finally decided on S-Gap flap, my mind was at ease.

If I could do it over again

I would have had the preventative surgery much, much earlier if I had known about BRCA testing 10 years ago. I’m really surprised that my breast cancer surgeon never discussed it, and that it wasn’t mentioned throughout my 10 years of diagnostic mammograms.

My participation with FORCE

Being a part of the FORCE community put me in touch with other ladies who had traveled on similar journeys. Through that contact, I was able to make informed decisions based on the experience with others, as well as research and consultations with my doctors. To give back to others in the community I started a blog to write about my journey: www.mybrca2journey.com

Other thoughts

I have had so many blessings throughout my journey. My husband has been my nurse, caretaker, and friend, and I love him more everyday for being my life partner.

I asked my doctor to put me in touch with other ladies who had gone through the same procedure. After receiving her permission, he put me in touch with someone who was scheduled for gap surgery the day after me. My new friend and I have stayed in touch throughout our journey, and this has been a huge blessing. And my other friends have been a great support.

Having the love and support of a network of friends and family makes the journey much easier.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered