By Chelsea Gregory
My hereditary cancer risk came from my father
I didn't know a risk for hereditary cancer ran in my family until I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28. Several women on my father's side of the family had battled breast cancer, including my paternal grandmother. None of them had undergone genetic testing. Since I was diagnosed when genetic testing was more widely available, I thought it best to undergo genetic testing.
CHEK2 and a double mastectomy
I had mixed emotions (including some relief) when my test results showed I had a CHEK2 mutation. Prior to receiving my results, I was debating whether to have a single or double mastectomy. Being diagnosed with a genetic mutation confirmed my decision to have a double mastectomy. Now I would worry less about developing breast cancer again in the future.
FORCE: a wonderful resource of information and a community of support
FORCE has been helpful in my journey. The FORCE website is a great resource, not just for those with a hereditary cancer risk, but also for those who are battling breast or ovarian cancer. I realize that I made it through cancer relatively unscathed. I harbor a lot of guilt over this. I caught it early and did not need chemo or radiation. I loved and trusted the hospital where I was treated and am pleased with the aesthetic results of my double mastectomy. I am paying my good fortune forward by being a Peer Navigator with FORCE. I find it rewarding and enjoy connecting with other women. Hopefully I am making their day a little easier or a little less scary.
FORCE shows you that you can take something terrible - cancer, a genetic mutation, grief or loss - and turn it into something positive. FORCE is a group of women and men supporting one another. Most importantly, FORCE means that you are never alone.
XRAY is my favorite FORCE educational program. Since there is so much conflicting information in the news regarding breast cancer, XRAY clarifies the facts in a way that is easy to understand. I look forward to reading their regular media reviews.
I am empowered!
I want everyone who learns of a genetic mutation to feel empowered, not defeated.
Chelsea Gregory, CHEK2 Breast Cancer Survivor