Voices of FORCE

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Christina Ackerman, Winter Springs, FL

Quick Info About Me

 

Age: 44

I'm all about pre-emptive strikes. I've not had cancer, but proactively had bilateral mastectomies done and OOPH/hysterectomy due to BRAC2+ results.

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

Favorite book / authors:
Bible

Favorite Quote:
Hebrews 12:1-2

Favorite Song:
In Christ Alone by Avalon

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My journey

Because of my strong family history of breast cancer (my mother, my mother’s sister, and my mother’s mother all had breast cancer) doctors have watched my health very closely since I was 25 years old. As I reached the age of 40, my doctors advised me to have mammograms, breast sonograms, and/or breast MRIs done every six months. Every six months I would be anxious to know whether anything showed up on those screenings. After a questionable mammogram, I was referred to a breast cancer doctor who advised me to have the BRAC Analysis test done. I took my doctor’s advice, got the test done, and I tested positive. To me this meant that my statistics were no longer “1 in 8 women will get breast cancer”; in my situation it was now a “1 in 1 woman will get breast cancer”. My breast doctor suggested I get a bilateral mastectomy. I went ahead with this procedure, followed by breast reconstruction surgeries. The entire mastectomy and reconstruction took three surgeries and 6 months. After my mastectomy, pathology showed pre-cancerous cells in one of my removed breasts. This gave me even more confirmation that I had made the correct decision.

The BRAC Analysis also indicates a high probability of getting ovarian cancer. So, in one of my follow up doctor visits, I was recommended to get the CA-125 test done, which is one of the ovarian cancer indicators. This test came back elevated. I was then referred to a gynecological oncologist who suggested I also get a complete hysterectomy. After, three surgeries, I was not looking forward to yet another major surgery. Moreover, I felt more uncomfortable having this procedure done because it would affect my hormones and send me straight into menopause. Menopause at 42 did not sound good to me. However, just like preventing breast cancer, it made sense to prevent ovarian cancer. Being proactive again, I went ahead with the hysterectomy. Luckily, it was done laparoscopically, which means recovery was only two weeks long.

The hardest part of my journey

Facing menopause at the age of 42. Thankfully, other than hot flashes, I have not had many other menopausal effects.

If I could do it over again

Absolutely nothing. This was God's plan for my life. I'm confident these surgeries were the right decisions for me and the path for me to take. There is peace in knowing I won’t have to go through the trials of getting cancer and everything that goes with it: chemotherapy, radiotherapy, losing my hair, getting nauseous, and all the effects I saw my mother go through.

My participation with FORCE

It's comforting to hear of other women who went through the same things I have.

Other thoughts

When I was 15 years old, my mother had to explain to me that her cancer was terminal. She told me she would not see my 20th birthday. It broke my heart. She died when I was 19; just 3 months before my 20th birthday. She was 42. It so happened that during my surgeries, my daughter Sara was also 15 years old. I had the privilege to tell her that I was getting these procedures so that I would live! This is freedom!

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