Photo Cred: Ali Bonomo
I am getting a preventive double mastectomy. I have a family history of breast cancer. My grandmother passed away in her early 30’s due to this dreadful disease. When I heard about the debut of genetic testing to see if you carry the BRCA2 gene I signed up for it right away. I was the first patient of my doctors that had come back with positive results, which was no surprise to me. I got tested only to confirm what I already suspected. I was in my early twenties and just shrugged my shoulders like “Oh okay, good to know!” And kept living life as usual, because I had that classic invincibility that every 22 year old has. The years pass, a few lumps here and there. All biopsied and benign thank goodness. Now however, as I am approaching 30 I realize that I have been given a gift of knowledge with this genetic testing. Am I really going to sit with what I know about my BRCA2 genetic mutation and just continue to carry on as usual? No, not anymore. It’s insulting to women who didn’t have the chance to beat cancer in it budding stages or before it even formed. It’s insulting to my grandmother, who if given the chance, would have done anything to save her life and raise her children. It’s up to me to take this information and be proactive in living a long and healthy life. What I’ve learned in my research about my diagnosis and family history is that I have a calculated risk of an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. That got my attention. Additionally, since I have this mutation if I WERE to develop breast cancer, my cells would actually be resistant to chemo therapy, meaning that i would have to accept the most aggressive form of treatment right away. I decided that I needed to do the right thing. To accept this gift of information and get a preventative double mastectomy. This procedure lowers my risk all the way down to 1%. I like those odds much better. In this procedure one doctor removes all of my breast tissue. All of it, cells are small and if one stays behind and mutates then I could still develop cancer. Another doctor will have the duty of rebuilding my breasts from silicon, rendering my breasts not deadly at this point. I made some appointments and the doctors confirmed that I was making the right choice. The doctor who will perform the double mastectomy is a wonderfully nice and comforting woman. She radiates intelligence and kindness and I immediately felt great about moving forward with her. She looked at my charts and informed me that getting mammograms wasn’t enough and that I should be getting breast MRI’s instead, due to my dense breast tissue and BRCA2. The more you know! I then made an appointment to meet my plastic surgeon, who would reconstruct my breasts. Upon meeting him I had another intuitive hit that this was exactly the person for the job. We geeked out on the science behind implants and how the body reacts with them and I could tell by his enthusiasm for what he does that my new breasts would be a work of art! He took my measurements. I am currently a 27D. I was informed that due to my small build and the fact that my breast had recovered from the effects of breastfeeding rather well, that I could keep my nipples! This was really great news, and not an opportunity every woman gets in this procedure. I feel so relieved to get to keep that part of me. I was told that I could choose any size of breast implants that I wanted, but I want to be the same me so I am choosing to remain at a D cup. At this time I am processing everything but ultimately I feel great about my decision. I have known about my risks from a young age. When my grandmother passed away she left 3 children behind, one being my 12 year old mother. I have an 11 year old son and I won’t let breast cancer take me from him. I have the choice to take action and I am. My mother identified all of her life as a Motherless Daughter and definitely used her experience to spread awareness about this disease. I am grateful for her honesty and openness to share with me. My husband is being incredibly supportive, as always. Everyday I fall in love with him all over again. His strength and love make me feel strong enough to take on anything. I have a few upcoming appointments and a “Boob Heaven” party to plan. I’ll keep you all updated as it all unfolds. Thanks for joining me on this journey. Ultimately my goal is to share my experience in a positive light, to show that this procedure is a celebration of scientific advancements in the world, a celebration of life and living and a celebration of one of the best body parts ever!
My grandma Judith, pictured here while very pregnant with my mom.
Photo Cred: Ali Bonomo