It was September 30, 2011, and my genetic counselor walked into the exam room. "The good news is that your breast MRI is fine," she said. I knew right away as I replied, "But I have a BRCA mutation." She handed me paperwork which explained my positive test result for the BRCA1 deleterious genetic mutation. I asked her for a list of breast surgeons, plastic surgeons and gynecological oncologists. I was typical Julie - organized and methodical. I didn't cry. I felt no fear. I was now on a mission not to develop breast cancer (which my late mom and two late aunts survived) or ovarian cancer (which took my cousin's life). By January 17, 2012, I had undergone a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy and a bilateral double mastectomy with latissimus dorsi flaps. I chose not to have breast reconstruction.
Fast forward to April 2012. I am tired, but recovering well. While contemplating what I can do with my life to give it purpose, I remembered that my genetic counselor mentioned an organization called FORCE. I went on the website. Not only was I impressed with the wonderful information it offered, but I also felt a personal connection to what I was reading. When I read that FORCE was looking for volunteers, I immediately expressed an interest in being a helpline volunteer and began what has been the most personally rewarding experience of my life.
I have my BRCA journey to share with callers. I have information to answer many questions. I have humor to put people at ease. I have compassion so they know someone cares. I have empathy so they know they are not alone. I have FORCE and let callers know that they do, too.
I am a newlywed who, within the past year, began a second chapter in my life -- with a wonderful new husband and a purpose in my life called FORCE.