Breasts are wonderful things, aren’t they?
They can really help you fill out a dress. Be complete and totally nourishment for a tiny babe for months of their life. Captivate an audience. Try to kill you….oh wait, what?
The chance of me getting breast cancer in my “lifetime,” (up to age 85) is 31%. Roughly 1/3. Two-thirds of the females in my nuclear family have gotten it.
The risk of an average 27-year-old being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime without the history that I have is 17%. Plus, they still have their God-given breast tissue attached to their body. Supposedly, removing my breasts, given my history, would drop my risk to less than the average female of my age.
The medical world often puts a lot of stock into BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene testing and using these to assess your risk factor. My mom and sister both tested negative for the gene. Not only was their genetic BRCA negative, their cancers were also what is called triple negative. All these negatives should be a good thing right? Wrong. Triple negative makes it non-hormone responsive, more aggressive, and the only treatment option is aggressive chemotherapy.
Now, since there is not a know genetic connection to the cancer of my two closest female relatives, it is hard to say what my real risk is. But, would you want to sit around and wait to find out? For me, this is not an option.
After seeing this hideous disease take its best shot at TWO people in my life, I refuse to go through it. I will do everything in my power and forge the path to get more answers for my daughters and niece and continue to pursue a prophylactic procedure for myself to lower my risk factor and ensure my health and existence for years to come.
I have two baby girls to raise and I will not take no for answer. Aggressive bi-yearly screening is not an answer to me. I want a prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy procedure.
I don’t want to think about when it’s going to be my turn. I want to take control. For me and for my family.
This year I met with a breast surgeon who told me my risk factor and recognizes me as a patient at “high risk” for breast cancer. At age 26, I had a mammogram while nursing. I had an extensive breast ultrasound at 27 while 29 weeks pregnant. Following the delivery of my new baby girl, I will have another mammogram and breast MRI. Soon, I will meet with a genetic counselor to further determine my risk factor and set up a high-risk screening program. I will keep pushing.
There is always something you can do to educate yourself, have your risk assessed and ultimately….you are in control. I didn’t let anyone push me off because I am pregnant or young. I may not be able to do the most effective procedures for screening right now, but there is always something to do. I am not going to let anyone tell me that I am too young, or too emotionally driven, or just too scared right now to make an educated decision about my health.
Please know your risk. Get checked. Demand the answers. You don’t have to just sit and wait for it to happen to you. We can take this thing head on and get the preventative care that we want and need and guarantee better, more aggressive care for our babies.