Mary's Story

Mary and Dawn"LUVN LFE". My husband and I were on the way to the hospital when we saw the words on the license plate of the car in front of us. Those words became my spiritual motto on the morning of June 20, 2007. That was the day of my prophylactic bilateral mastectomies.

The words seemed preordained and calmed my fears. After all, that was the reason for my surgery. I love my life and will do what it takes to preserve it. I'm a previvor.

My hope is that I will see my children grow up. My mother was not able to do that. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of thirty-eight and passed away within 5 months. I was sixteen with four younger siblings; my youngest sister was only ten months old. In addition to my mom, my grandmother, aunt, sister, and cousin have all been affected by either ovarian or breast cancer.

Genetic testing revealed that I have the BRCA1 mutation. Thanks to the generosity of others, I received a scholarship to the conference through the Linda Pedraza Conference Scholarship Fund. The information I received at the conference, helped empower me to make decisions and move forward with a management plan. I met so many wonderful women who were willing to talk and share their stories. I realized that I wasn't alone in this journey.

I thought that when I was finished with my surgeries I would want to forget about all of this, and go on with my life. However, I've become passionate about FORCE and the many ways the organization can help women and their families with issues surrounding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I am an Outreach Coordinator for Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky and I'm loving life!!!