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!
It been a blessing in disguise.
I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:
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My mother passed away from metastatic cancer December 2000 but had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990. I’ve known about genetic testing and BRCA since 2001. Shortly after my mom passed I was referred to a geneticist due to my family history - both mother and maternal grandmother diagnosed and deceased prior to the age of 50. Fourteen years ago things were very different. I was 17 and needed parental consent to test. Aside from that, positive results could have potentially led to no medical insurance or ridiculously high insurance premiums. For whatever reason I didn’t test. Fast forward to December 2010, I consulted with a geneticist again and my case is placed on the backburner until September 2012.
On October 11, 2012 my results came back positive - BRCA2. I knew the results would come back positive but I was devastated and wanted my mom. About a week later I met with an oncologist to discuss my options. 1) High-risk surveillance, alternating every 6 months between a mammogram and an MRI. 2) Tamoxifen, a medication that’s taken for 5 years but you can’t conceive and would be taken while following high-risk surveillance. Last but not least, 3) a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy (BPM). Prior to my genetic testing, I knew I would have a BPM but I envisioned that surgery in my early 40’s and not at 28 going on 29 so I chose option 1. Earlier this year I began taking tamoxifen and it made me miserable. Hot flashes are no joke and menopause is going to suck.
After close to three years of high surveillance, a surgery last year to remove a benign tumor, numerous biopsies, both ovarian and cancer scares, and a series of events that took place between June 28 – August 10th, its time I share my Previvor story. On October 22, 2015, one day after by 32nd birthday I will have a prophylactic mastectomy. It truly is the best birthday gift I could ever give myself – my health and my life. For the record I am not having the Angelina Jolie surgery. I’m having MY surgery to reduce MY risk of breast cancer. I am not having a boob job. A boob job is when you augment/enhance what you already have. Yes, I will have implants and I don’t have to worry about them sagging when I’m older but it’s not the same. I’m not trying to save first base or the ta-ta’s, I’m being proactive in saving MY life.
The hardest part of this journey has been the lack of understanding and knowledge. Many don't understand my decision and it's made me a more private person. It's challenging to have friend and family understand how terrified you are. I saw my mother battle the disease for 10 years and I just knew I didn't want to follow that path. It took me close to 3 years after my BRCA confirmation but I feel it's been the best decision I've ever made.
No. This has been my journey. Every moment led to this current place and I wouldn't change that.
It helps to know that I have BRCA sister's and brother's. It helps to know that I'm not alone and it helps to know that there are many other's like me.