I never thought I would be a blog person. While I appreciate blogs, and certainly follow several, I have never really considered myself a great writer. However, what I have to say this is not about making people laugh, sharing a good recipe or discussing whether or not skinny jeans are in or out (ALTHOUGH I strongly believe they are still IN). It’s about documenting my feelings, thoughts, joys, reliefs and fears. It’s about writing these things down because they may help someone else, now or in the future.
Eight years ago, my family learned we have a genetic mutation in our gene line called BRCA1 (AKA The Breast Cancer Gene). Many people have recently heard of this mutation because a few years back, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Christina Applegate learned she too was BRCA positive. Being BRCA positive means you have up to an 85% chance of developing breast cancer and a 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer. Almost everyone (including the men) on my mother’s side of my family has been tested. About 50% of us are free and clear. This is great! It means the gene stops with them; it can’t be passed to their children. I finally decided to take the plunge three years ago and learned I’m one of the positive ones. In this case, ‘positive’ actually means ‘negative’. The stats you read above apply to me.
So here’s the thing. If diagnosed with the BRCA mutation, you can look at this situation two different ways. You can take the “poor me” attitude… which I’ve definitely had moments… no hours… mmmm ok, actually weeks maybe months where I’ve felt sorry for myself. And that’s okay because it’s really hard to learn what you’re genetically predisposed too. But there are also moments that I feel blessed. I have the rare opportunity to fight back… fight back before this even begins. Because of the simple blood test I took three years ago, insurance companies have allowed me to start getting mammograms at the age of 28 and have paid for the majority of yearly MRI’s I have to get. I have also been accepted into two different early detection ovarian cancer studies with the Marsha Rivkin Center and Fred Hutch and they pay for two blood tests a year and an ovarian ultrasound. My mother, unbeknown to us at the time of her BC diagnosis, was also BRCA positive and didn’t have the opportunities I have today. If she did, I truly believe she would still be around.
Where’s this all going? Well the fact of the matter is, while I’m really thankful for all the screening, I’m fed up. I’m sick of all the constant boob checks, the mammograms, the MRI’s. I’ve had to put a lot of time, effort and coordination into spending about four hours on Pill Hill (Swedish Hospital in Seattle) taking care of all of these visits once every six months. So I’ve decided to pull out the big guns, the nuclear weapons. I’ve decided to give this cancer thing the double finger (hopefully some of you get the Sex and the City reference). On March 15th I’m going to have a Bilateral Prophylactic (preventative) Mastectomy. * F%ck You Breast Cancer!*