Here. Goes. Nothin’.

And so it goes…

Its been just about 4 months since finding out I was BRCA2 positive. I have a little over a month to go until my mastectomy (which we’ll call MX for short) and I honestly didn’t think time would fly by so quickly! My BRCA2+ sister is having her surgery today – a bilateral MX w/reconstruction and an oophorectomy {removal of the ovaries}. I will be checking up on her this weekend to see how she’s doing and get a better idea of what I’m in for.

I decided to start this blog for research purposes. When I first found out about having the BRCA gene, the first thing I did was head for GOOGLE! Who wouldn’t, right? As they say, the internet tends to show the WORST case scenarios of any health issue, which in the long run I realized this situation was no different. Not only did the MX pictures look like someone took a machete to their chest, but the majority of these brave women were quite a bit older than me and many had very different body types than I do. I’m 27 and a non smoker. I’m 5/3 and a half with a B cup and I’m not overweight. I haven’t had the unfortunate circumstance of radiation to distort my skin and my body hasn’t been worn down by chemotherapy.

That being said, I have basically googled myself to death trying desperately to find something or someone with similar traits as me to compare to. Enter Holley… (my sweet, sweet new friend). We are officially BRCA buddies! I met her through my genetic counselor and through her I was able to completely put my mind at ease regarding the vanity of this whole thing! She was gracious enough to take me under her wing as a sister and friend and offered a helping hand through this entire journey. She shot it straight for me. Told me the good, the bad, the ugly and the even uglier. I was elated to have someone I could reach out to and compare notes with that was JUST LIKE ME! But as things progressed, I couldn’t help but wonder what I could do to help women (of all ages) see how this would affect them. What could I do to ease their fear of not only a MX, but a prophylactic one at that! Its 2012 – blogging. Done!

I’m well aware that being alive is a hell of a lot more important than losing my breasts, but let’s be honest – who at 27 years old wouldn’t shoot off into vanity mode at some point during this process? All I could think about for quite some time (and still do occasionally) is what I would look like cosmetically when this whole thing was said and done. Will I still look like me? Will someone I’m dating take one look at these possibly imperfect boobs and head the other direction? Will I be let down by my own expectations? Will I become self conscious? Will other women judge me in a bikini calling me fake behind my back for having a “boob job”, not knowing the underlying issue. Should I feel selfish for being sad about this surgery when I’m voluntarily going through with this. Maybe I should hold off until another few years down the road so I’ll feel more “ready” (hell, maybe I’ll be married by that point and I’d feel more secure about changing my body when I’m older). 

Enter my don’t beat around the bush friend, Allison. And she quotes, “Amy, you keep saying this is something you know you want to do. You don’t want to do this; you have to do this! You don’t have a choice. This is about your life.” And that pretty much took care of that. My insecurity of wondering if a guy would ever have an issue with my slightly imperfect boobs clouded my mind so much that I was honestly using that as a reason not to be proactive about my health. I’m thinking on the grand scale of life, that load of crap weighs about half an ounce. The fact is that I’m never going to really be “ready”. Whether I’m 27 and dating or 67 and married – no woman is ever ready to lose what makes her a woman. Even if we still have boobs in the end. Even if the new boobs look amazing! We will always miss the real thing. Some people may say it’s too radical at 27 years old. But I bet that group of rads hasn’t seen as many stories as I have showcasing women with this gene going through breast cancer or ovarian cancer in their 20’s and 30’s. Maybe they should look at it the way I did. What if you walked out of a restaurant one night and a man was standing next to your car. He warned you that when you get in that car to drive home, you have an 87% chance of getting into a car accident. It may be fatal. It may not be. Imagine your shock to that! But what if that man told you that you could have that car serviced before you left the parking lot. Once it’s serviced, your chance of getting into a fatal accident goes down to less than 1%. Would you service the car? Even if it drove slightly different than it did before? I had no doubts after hearing that analogy.

So here it is. For anyone and everyone to see. I’m setting aside all of my insecurities to hopefully help at least one woman get through this and know that she’s not alone. That the prophylactic approach is not too radical – it’s a blessing! We will NEVER have to go through what women like my sister are going through. We have a heads up! I found a quote from a woman named Hoda Kotb that went through this process and her words were a stepping stone for me to start this project – “Don’t hog your journey. It’s not just for you.” I’m ready to take this B on as my “new normal.”

Everything will be documented from the plastic surgeon appointment before the MX, the before and after the day of the surgery, the physical therapy, the tissue expanders (<—will be my least favorite part), recovery, getting back to work and then the final product with the real implants! It’s time that women all over the world know and understand that genetic testing can save their lives!

Breast wishes –

Amy

6 thoughts on “Here. Goes. Nothin’.

  1. Amy, as your very proud stepmother, I can’t even begin to tell you what a brave and amazing young woman you are. This year has been a very hard one. This decision was not an easy one for you to make, but yet it was an easy one… because yes, this is about your life. I do not want you to ever doubt for 2 seconds that this was the right thing to do. You have been blessed to not have to endure what your sister has had to endure, and to not have to worry every day of your life about getting breast cancer, because of this…

    Your family is standing by your side and cheering you on.

    I love you,
    Pita

    • Thank you, Andrea! I love your posts! And the bucket list is amaze. 🙂 Maybe I’ll make one of my own. I’ve added your site as one of my favorites. I’ll look for updates to check your progress. Hang in there!

      • Can’t wait to hear what you come up with for your bucket list! Let me know if you have any questions, or need anything in the coming month. Happy to be a sounding board / support system ( :

        I love your writing and look forward to updates from you too!

  2. So very proud of my brave daughter to face this with such a positive vibe!

    What you are doing will be an inspiration to many, many other women who are facing the same thing!

    I love you very much!

    Dad

  3. Hi Amy! I recently set up Google Alerts for the word ‘previvor’ and I got a lovely email with your blog link on it. I am 24 and recently found out I was BRCA2 positive. I haven’t set up my surgery yet but I’m so glad I found your blog and can follow your journey. I also have a previvor blog: http://www.previvoreryn.blogspot.com/. Looking forward to the updates.

    Eryn

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