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Ten years ago, at the age of 32, I pursued genetic testing due to an extensive family history of breast and ovarian cancer. My mother was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at age 48. Her younger sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, but ultimately died of ovarian cancer at age 47. Her mother died of ovarian cancer at age 47.
I'm an oncology nurse, so I've seen the many ramifications of chemotherapy and radiation. I wasn't willing to take the 85-90% risk of developing breast cancer, or the 40-50% risk of developing ovarian cancer. My husband said it best when he said, “You have the chance to dodge a bullet coming straight at you. Not many people get that chance.” I decided to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction followed by a prophylactic total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
I didn't know about FORCE until after my surgeries. When I learned about FORCE, I quickly signed up to be a volunteer because I wanted to help others going through a similar journey of inevitable emotional roller coasters. I wanted to help others realize that a "new normal" can be manageable. Being a Previvor isn't always easy, but it has been an unforeseen blessing. I am grateful to be able to support and empower others as a Peer Navigator and Outreach Leader with FORCE.