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My mother passed away from breast cancer when she was 48 years old. My family really never recovered from our lost. So when I had my daughter I knew I would never skip a mammagram or annual check up.
But one year I found a lump and after a few weeks we learned it was cancer. Then came the year long treatment of chemo and radiation.
When my treatment was complete my doctor recomended I get tested for the BRCA gene. I was positive for BRCA1. (Note: After learning I was positive one of my sisters had herself tested immediately and the other sister did not...this will be important later).
The only decesion for me at this point was to do a prophylactic double mastecomy and hysterectomy. My goal was to stay alive and never have to do chemo again!
My sister who tested positive was 50 years old and cancer free worked with her doctor who decided it was best for her to have a prophylactic hysterectomy too. Thank God! It was discovered during her surgery that she had Ovarian Cancer. We would have never known had we not been tested for this gene. (Needless to say at this point, my other sister did get tested and was negative).
I am happy to say that 10 years after my diagnosis I am thriving and so is my sister! Testing might have saved my life...but it definately saved hers!
The hardest part of my journey was the scariness of it all. Its (cancer) is so much bigger than we are and the thought that my daughter could endure the pain I did of growing up without a mother was too much to bare. But, (and this is big but), the healthcare I received and the support(by friends, family and the medical community) helped me get through it day by day.
No sure...I wouldn't change anything I did but I'm not sure if I had known I was BRCA1 positive before I had cancer if I would have done things differently. What I do know is that EDUCATION is power. Read everything, talk to your doctors, talk to friends. Learn as much about your diesase and treatment as possible.
So now the big question, is what advice do I give my 22 year old daughter....should she get tested now or wait? and if she is positive what are her next steps?