One year ago today… I made a huge decision with my body. Even bigger than having my ovaries removed…
I went through with my choice to have a full prophylactic mastectomy.
In 2016, after finding a lump in my left breast (thankfully it turned out to be benign)…. and at the same time learning my oldest sister found out she had ovarian cancer…. we were both told we could be tested for the BRCA1/2 gene mutation.
We both tested positive for BRCA1.
(There are two other sisters who haven’t been able to be tested yet).
My results told me that I had close to 50 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer, and close to 90 percent chance of getting breast cancer in my life.
This was a risk I was not willing to take. I take care of my kids. I take care of my aunt. I take care of a house. I have so much and so many people and things depending on me. Knowing I have this in my body just waiting on its own terms to do what it does? Was NOT an option.
I always said if I ever got cancer, I’d just be like *pfft… take them, I don’t care*… but I never thought I’d be in a situation where I could make the choice to prevent it. That alone, was empowering. Sure, I was scared…. and I definitely did not do enough research into what comes after… but I don’t regret my decision.
The entire process is/was BRUTAL. I was always tired. I still am…Always in pain (on top of my *normal* daily pain)… and yes I had many days where I wondered what in the ever living fuck did I just do? An equal amount of days where I almost regretted the reconstruction… why didn’t I just stay flat? (It really was not THAT bad…it was liberating quite frankly) Tissue expanders are the absolute worst part in my opinion. I spent many nights trying to figure out which pillows were going to work under what part of my body to get me into some weird angle where I could find just enough comfort to get a few hours of sleep. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic? This part was torture.
Something I ran into during the process… friends telling me they admired my strength. And I had a problem with this initially…. my response was always “It’s nothing like what people who HAVE cancer are going through”… and I have been told multiple times to stop down playing my strength.
I *know* I’m a strong person (well, I am like… 90 percent of the time). But I only saw my own strength when I had no other choice but to BE strong. I *had* a choice here. I MADE the choice here. I couldn’t see the strength in that…. to me, this was all the easy way out. Looking back… getting all those surgeries (4 in just a single year… with a span of weekly/bi-weekly fills on top)… the exhaustion… (while still trying take care of the people and things that depend on me)… the pain… the emotional journey (I should have gotten therapy in hindsight)…. knowing that most people didn’t understand what I just put myself through (and probably didn’t care to…..) ….. yes. Now I understand the strength involved. I won’t downplay what it took for me to get through this.
My journey is almost finished. I have one more follow up appointment with the plastic surgeon. I have chosen to accept what they are now, as they are. I just don’t want to put myself through anymore surgeries. Even the *minor* ones take their toll…
I will have at minimum one more mammogram (just to double check on things) and then after? Maybe every five years or so….
I don’t even know how to explain how relieved I am that this is all (mostly) over. It’s just a weight off of my life.
And if I helped a single person be less scared, should they end up in my shoes? Keeping this blog was worth it.
Special shout out to the cancer survivors out there. You guys are warriors.