Today’s story comes from Bethany Cove of Ipswich, MA. She was 35 when she learned that she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation.
Describe your BRCA journey in one sentence:
In a family with a horrific history of breast cancer, I am the only person to test positive for a gene mutation.
What made you decide to get tested for the BRCA gene mutation?
I was considering a breast reduction, and with my family history, my plastic surgeon refused to touch me without my having genetic counseling.
Are you BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive?
What did you think/feel when you discovered you were BRCA positive? How did it affect those around you?
I was very surprised; those around me were shocked and upset. Some family members who were at risk for a mutation were adamant that they did not need to test. My dad, who we assume I inherited my mutation from, was sad and apprehensive that I would suffer the fate of his great aunts, aunts, and sisters.
What surgical procedures (if any) have you undergone?
Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with immediate diep/siea reconstruction.
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy with a complete hysterectomy.
How has your BRCA gene mutation changed your life?
I like to think that after having had risk-reducing surgeries, that I am more carefree and think less about cancer, but in reality, I believe more about it than ever. As we know, risk-reducing is not risk eliminating. Knowing that I have a mutation has made me pay closer attention to my body.
If you could share any tips or advice with women who have just learned they have the BRCA gene mutation, what would it be?
Take some time to let the news sink in, get the support that you need, even if it is online through BRCA message boards and not family or friends, and educate yourself. Do not overthink things, go with your gut, and make sure that you assert yourself when you have made a decision, after all. It is your body, and nobody else knows what you feel like!