I’m 33 years old. When I was 23, I had my first breast cancer scare. I proactively began doing self-exams in the shower, switched to natural deodorant, and tried to avoid underwires… all things I told myself would limit my risks. The scares were fewer and far between then. But still, 3 mammograms in your 20’s isn’t fun. It wasn’t until a few years later that both of my aunts were diagnosed (and beat!) breast cancer. They were both tested for the BRCA gene, with one being positive, and the other not. This also uncovered a long family history, with every female having either ovarian or breast issues.
Well that changes things! When I was 30, I asked my dad to get tested for the gene. When he came back positive, I knew I had to get tested. COVID slowed down my timeline, and I kept putting it off. I’ll be fine, I thought, it won’t matter until I’m older, etc. Then I felt a lump, and this time, I knew I had to get serious.
I tested positive for BRCA2. My cancer care team has me on a routine of every 3 months, I switch between a mammogram or an MRI – for the rest of the my life. And throw in annual skin cancer check, and every 6 months, an ovarian check. 9 visits a year adds up.
Now throw in a few more scares, more visits on top of the routine checks, along with long periods of waiting in between getting in for testing, waiting for the results, and the amount of stress and anxiety that lives with me on a daily basis.
2023 is the year, I thought. 10 years is enough.
The beginning of the year, I met with the surgical team to plan for a double mastectomy. I planned for a November date, so my 4-6 week recovery time would coincide with the end of the year, making an easier return to work, and knowing it would be bulky sweater season so I could hide my new body more comfortably.
When you make plans, God laughs. During one of my routine visits, they found 3 cysts- more non-routine testing, and after 6 months, they shrank. No big deal, my boobs will be gone soon any way!
Again, God laughs. 5 weeks out from surgery, while getting my MRI that was needed for the surgery, they found two new masses. But why, I asked the nurse- they will be gone in 5 weeks? Does it really matter? The answer was yes it did; one was located near a lymph node and they both could affect the surgery game plan and their ability to save anything.
I spent the next few weeks crying, worrying, and blaming myself for not scheduling this sooner. It took me two weeks to get an appointment for a biopsy. Then another week to get the results – which were, THANK GOD, “probably benign”.
But as I write this today, less than 2 weeks out until the surgery, I am in a good place (but it fluctuates hour by hour). I think that last scare solidified that I am doing the right thing, whether people agree with it or not. My peace of mind is worth my body changing. As an extremely Type A person and planner (some of you are probably laughing right now because YOU KNOW), I am glad to feel some sense of control, as the alternative is to what- sit around and wait until I develop cancer? That is not how I choose to live, and I am thankful for everyone’s love and support for me as I begin this next chapter.
Double mastectomy with expanders is Monday, 11/6. I’ll go in once a week to have them slowly fill the expanders, and will be on short term disability for 4-6 weeks. After 3 months, I’ll be able to have the expanders switched out with the implants, which will only be a 1-2 week recovery. If you have any questions, I will be bedridden and would love to hear from you all.
Huge thanks to my mom, Claudia, for coming to help me for the first 3+ weeks, which I know will be spent on an air mattress/couch, being bored, and probably getting yelled at by myself. And sharing a one-bedroom apartment 🙂
To my coworkers turned family, who got me a boudoir photo shoot for my birthday, and have been invested in every appointment, every scare, I love you all.
To my family, who respects my I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT ,but I know you are there and thinking of me.
Of course my friends, who have seen my boobs more times than they probably wanted to. But the support, love, offering to drive and wait for me at my appointments, cook me food/buy me drinks, and just generally being the fabulous human beings and friends that I am so lucky to be so close too, I love you.
And enormous thanks to Ryan. For letting me plan my dream 2-week vacation to Bali to give the jugs one last hurray. For feeling all of my lumps over these past 10 years, and telling me whether they were in my head or not. For letting me cry, but not letting my anxiety take too much control. For (hopefully) still loving me with my new body, but just for loving me in general. I’m not sure if you even know I still have boobs, to be honest 😉
THANK YOU ALL!
20Days to go
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