Today’s story comes from Meghan of Buffalo, NY. She was 26 when she learned that she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation.
Describe your BRCA journey in one sentence: Relentless
What made you decide to get tested for the BRCA gene mutation? My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time in 1992, and a second time in 2003 and they were completely unrelated cancers. I work for a health insurer, and I knew about the test, but I was trying to turn a blind eye to it. Finally, I decided that it wasn’t worth the risk anymore.
Are you BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive? BRCA2
What did you think/feel when you discovered you were BRCA positive? How did it affect those around you? I remember feeling the relief, knowing that my future was no longer a gamble. I think my mom felt guilty, even though by that point she hadn’t had the test done. I think some of my friends were scared or sad for me, but they all rallied to be such a strong support system.
What surgical procedures (if any) have you undergone? I had a bilateral mastectomy (non-skin and non-nipple sparing) on September 8th, 2014. On October 23rd, after a weekend of being extremely sick with flu-like symptoms, it was determined that I had a bad infection and was bordering on septic. I had a PICC line placed and had to self-administer IV antibiotics every 6 hours for five weeks. At the end of that, my surgeon decided to swap out the expander on the infected side, which happened on December 11th. When I was getting ready for bed on January 1st, 2015, I noticed some redness and called the hospital at 9 pm and was told to come immediately. I was admitted for almost a week receiving IV antibiotics that were not being effective. On January 6th, my right expander was removed again. It was a long five months, but it was finally replaced on May 27th, 2015 and so far it is healing and filling beautifully.
How has your BRCA gene mutation changed your life? It has made me more appreciative of the everyday things, living in the moment rather than trying to look for the next step. Gratefully, it has also brought some very, very amazing and loving people into my life.
If you could share any tips of advice with women who have just learned they have the BRCA gene mutation what would it be? You are braver and stronger than you realize. It’s easy to let yourself be beaten down with facts and statistics and your fears, but don’t let those things be your demise. Rise above every struggle because you can.