Okay. I know it’s been a while. A long while. The fact is, I’ve had writer’s block and have needed a break. You know how it is. Surgery, the holidays, work has been crazy busy, and I’ve just been in a holding pattern. BUT this week marks one year since my bilateral mastectomy! And so as you can imagine, I’ve been reflecting on this journey a lot this week.
Last night I went to a local meeting for FORCE. I decided to go because I needed to be around other women like me. I wasn’t sure what to expect and found myself apprehensive about discussing my experience this last year. I caught myself at one point having to search for the right words to use when describing my experience. I even said, “I really need to work on my answer to this question.”
Why?? Because for the first time I was sitting face-to-face with other women who had the BRCA gene. So when they ask me if I’m BRCA1 or BRCA2…I didn’t know what to say.
I’ve been so cautious this entire year when sharing all of the raw details of my experience. I haven’t wanted to scare anyone or under/over dramatize my experience. And let’s face it —it’s been a hell of a ride. I don’t want to talk someone into having surgery or out of having surgery just because I’ve had complications. You can imagine how hard it is for me to look at these ladies in the eyes and say, “Well, I started out BRCA2. I was given the results in 2007 and then in Sept or so of last year, I found out that the gene mutation was negative.”
Most people don’t even know that this is a possibility. And yes – I’ve come to terms with the fact that in a few years they might come back to me and say that it’s actually a new mutation that they’ve discovered called BRCA3. And yes – I’ve reconciled as much as I can knowing that my family and medical history still points to a hereditary link to ovarian and breast cancer. But that’s a lot of “sharing” just to quickly try and make them feel better about their decisions for their lives. I’ll find a better way to answer it so that I’m honest, accurate and not alarm them unnecessarily. I just haven’t figured that part out yet.
After they got through the shock of hearing my story, it was sooooooo nice to hear them talk about their experiences. We all had such different, yet similar experiences. Turns out?! I’m not the only one with complications! I left there last night feeling better about the way I explained my experience. I also left there with a renewed sense of belonging. It’s so cool to be a part of this unique community of strong, courageous, proactive, resourceful and “real” women. (hehehehe Even if our parts aren’t “real.”) I love that this experience has continued to reinforce to me the strong conviction that we must take ownership of our lives and health.
Now, I’m waiting for my next surgery. The journey hasn’t ended for me yet. But I’ll be interested to see how this next phase continues to help mold and shape my life. Well, and literally I hope to be molded and shaped…my left side has fallen and needs to be fixed. I’ll go see my doc Monday to see if I can get on the surgery schedule soon. “Silly looking leftie” has nothing holding it up because of the amount of muscle I lost in the last surgery. I’m lopsided to say the least.
I’m going to start back writing more frequently like I had been. So more to come! In the meantime, please keep my family in your prayers/thoughts. As I’m bringing my battle with cancer to a close, my cousin will be having surgery on Friday to determine the extent of a cancer he has developed. I believe that we’ll both share this week as a time each year where our lives were changed for the better. I have no doubt that he’ll receive blessings from his experience like I have. We’ll look at April 18 and 19 as the dates where we both punched cancer in the face and became more polished and loving because of it….and we’ll raise our glasses of kale/blueberry/flax seed smoothies in celebration together!
While I’m closing out one chapter and beginning a new one, I am still optimistic about my outcomes, happy with my decision, and thankful for a new lease on life. It’s been a wild year and I thank every one of you for your support and encouragement. April 18 marks one year of the hardest and most rewarding journey I’ve ever been on. In celebration, I’ve started a fundraising page on FORCE’s website to try and “give back” for all that they’ve done for me and continue to do. Please feel free to share it and give any amount that you feel led too. This year, my fundraising is for my grandmother, my aunts, my mother, my cousins, their future children, and my Peanut. Most importantly it’s for the 34 year old that’s reading my blog in silence, contemplating her options, and finding solace and peace through my experience and that of other’s that she reads about through FORCE.