Today one year ago I was sitting in my hospital bed post double mastectomy in massive pain but still grateful that I had an option to stop breast cancer before it hit my body. Today one year ago I became a previvor ( surviving my predisposition to breast cancer by getting rid of my risk of breast cancer). And Today, November 5, 2014 I look back with no regrets at the journey with my breasts that took me just under a year to complete. From start to finish it involved a double mastectomy, about 6 weekly expander saline fills during reconstruction, a second surgery for swapping expanders for implants, nipple reconstruction and nipple/areola tattooing. Besides the procedure part the road included all of the following; pain, crying, laughing, anger, pills, acupuncture, physical therapy, lots of driving, many long conversations, broken and made friendships, many glasses of wine, a little/lot retail therapy, and so much more that I can’t even remember. The most important and thing that helped me through it all was the hugs from my kids and reassurance from my husband that I was doing the right thing.
So one year later and a long time since I’ve written a blog post I feel compelled to share again about this journey. A journey many women with a hereditary predisposition to cancer are choosing to take today but a journey that comes with so much more than just lowered risk of getting breast cancer. I say it comes with so much more because I sit here thinking back about my year and all it entailed. It started with a chosen surgery but throughout the year it turned into meeting new people, gaining trusted friends, learning about genetics, understanding my body, and mostly feeling blessed because I had a choice. I met way too many women this year who found cancer in their body before they knew they either had a hereditary element or were actually positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. The advances in medicine today make it possible for many people to know about their genetics. Though it’s not always an easy process because of insurance, etc. to get the testing necessary to find this information out, many people don’t even know that they have a choice or even understand what their family genetics means for their own health. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s to take charge of your health and make sure you know what has gone on with the people in your family as far as illness and disease.
The one thing I don’t want to forget to say is during the summer I attended my 20 year high school reunion. On that night so many people I had known as a child validated what I had done, said they had read my blog, knew my story and were proud of the choices I made this past year. Thank you so much for telling me this…I don’t think we all realize how important it is in life to tell people when you think they have done good or made the right decisions. Taking risks, making decisions that are life changing can be so scary. To change a body just because of a potential risk and not actual imminent threat of cancer is scary but the reassurance made me feel at peace.
Now I move into the next year and start to tackle my next health concern, my ovaries. Because if you remember my posts from the past, I have elevated risk for both breast and ovarian cancer by having the BRCA1 mutation. I know this is just another part of the journey with me trying to prevent cancer from getting into my body. All of it scary but all of it in my eyes is necessary.
What I will be doing for now is being a part of the fight against cancer, I am and will continue to be a part of FORCE the awesome organization helping women like me with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in their family.
Thanks for reading my post,