Tracy Russell Galvin
Believe in Miracles
The Tracy (Russell) Galvin Family Story. We are a FORCE to be reckoned with.
Our world was turned upside down in the summer of 2010. With the phone in one hand, my 8 month old son in my other arm, and my 4 year old playing nearby, I was given the diagnosis of Stage 4 Breast Cancer with metastases to the liver at the age of 34. I was diagnosed as Stage 4 at the time of my initial diagnosis. The whirlwind began.
I underwent 9 months of weekly chemotherapy in order to reach a point of "stable," which enabled me to recently switch over to hormonal therapy. During the nine months of chemo there were ballet practices, weekly chemo, trips to Disney, genetic testing, Tampa Rays baseball games to watch, endless doctors’ appointments, and preschool car pooling. Cancer became a part of our everyday and getting through the everyday is what led us to start believing in miracles!
From the day I was diagnosed, it was not only me that the cancer attacked. It was my entire family. The emotions, the research, the day after day after day appointments/treatment, child care, etc... My family jumped right in as if theyhad been diagnosed with this chronic disease themselves.
We immediately got genetic counseling, as we already knew that my paternal grandmother died in her 40s from ovarian cancer. The testing led to additional "complications" and issues. I learned that I am BRCA2 positive. Upon further testing we learned my father and sister are also BRCA2 positive. Now cancer not only had attacked me, but it threatened to attack my family, and even my children.
My thirty year old sister Lindsay quickly made the courageous decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. Although her odds of being diagnosed with breast cancer are dramatically reduced post-surgery, this issue is not entirely over for her. She will forever have high risk screenings, and she may need further prophylactic surgery to remove her ovaries, after she starts a family.
Then there is the fear for my children, Fiona, 5, and Tommy, 1, and for future children of Lindsay’s. We don’t like the odds that they can have this mutation. 50/50. A flip of a coin. This is disturbing. I believe that something needs to be done.
What brings us some peace is knowing that in 10-20 years, when my children are adults, the research being done today will likely have already paid large dividends, in the form of treatment, prevention and education. We know today of the present risks, but we can hope that the medical advancements in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of hereditary cancers, especially BCRA mutations, will make the future much brighter for those of with this condition. This is a very new field and a very new issue. Researchers did not even identify the BRCA 1 &2 mutations until the latter part of the 1990s. This is a field that holds a particularly bright promise for rapid improvement and rapid results. In many ways, we are embarking into the proverbial "Brave New World," but at least as it relates to people who carry these genetic mutations, it is a Brave New World full of promise and hope.
As for my diagnosis, additional research on BRCA, metastatic disease and PARP inhibitors will greatly increase my chance of survival. Also, I truly believe in miracles and I know that I will be here a long, long time advocating for FORCE, for my sister, for my children and myself. BRCA research, BRCA awareness and educating the public to identify those others at risk promises invaluable returns.
We are lucky to have found a foundation such as FORCE that supports, educates and advocates for research. The Galvin/Russell Family feels blessed to join forces with FORCE!
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