“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~Eleanor Roosevelt

The day before surgery (9/9), I got to work around 6:30am and worked until 2pm. My pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon was at 2:45pm. All day I kept it together. I focused on getting things off my desk, letting HR know where I was at, and letting my boss know what follow-up stuff she’d need to do with customer’s, and whatnot. I was great all day and didn’t really have a chance to think about it…until 1:50pm came rolling around.

I went into HR’s office to give them the note they could read to my coworkers on Wednesday, Sept 10th explaining why I wasn’t in and wouldn’t be in for a while. I didn’t tell them about my surgery. I filled her in on a few things, and walked out of her office tearing up. I knew there was nothing I could throw myself into, not because I was in denial, but to keep my mind off of things. My 8-year-old niece came up to me, whispered into my ear, and said “I love you and am praying for you. I’ll see you tomorrow at the hospital.” Continue reading

Yep. I ran a 5k yesterday morning in 32 minutes and only 6 1/2 weeks post-surgery. I would never do anything that would go against my doctor’s orders because I know it will only hurt my recovery progress.

(I'm in the pink)

(I’m in the pink)

My triathlon teammates gave me some grief in good humor after the race. They also put me back in my place when I said I was slow and ONLY did it in 32 minutes. It wasn’t a personal best by any means (and I’m okay with that), but do you have any idea how excited I was to just freaking cross the finish line!?! I honestly didn’t even think if I’d even be able to do any more races after surgery. The fact that I was out there and did it means way more than you know!


My awesome, amazing and supportive triathlon friends!!! They made my day and were so encouraging!!!

I was reminded by teammates that I was only 6 1/2 weeks out from a MAJOR surgery and I’ve been only doing stuff for the past 3 1/2 weeks. They helped me put things back into context!

Please don’t take what I’m about to say out of context. You have no idea how much it hurt and bothered me when I received so much grief and crap from people because I did it. I appreciate the care and concern, but be careful with your tone!

If my doctors didn’t think I was ready to get back to physical exercise 3 1/2 weeks ago, I wouldn’t be exercising. I have not done anything outside of my doctors orders. In fact, I should have started physical therapy 2 1/2 weeks after surgery but I was the one that didn’t make the call because I was worried I wasn’t ready.

All 6 of my incisions are fully healed (and have been for a while) and I will continue to have expander and muscle pain because it’s my new norm. My pec muscle was cut and hinged over this foreign object that’s now in my body as my new boobs. I wouldn’t expect there to be no pain. I have drain incision pain still and will continue to have that for a while. This is my new norm. I can choose to sit on the couch and eat Bon-Bons or be out there exercising with modifications and restrictions (like weights/stretching-pulling whatnot). I think I’m going to choose the latter.

I know others in my shoes may not be able to move around or rebound from this kind of surgery and be out there “running” a 5k. Everyone heals differently. Look at my sister – she’s 4 weeks post-mastectomy and healing sloooowwwwwllllyyyyy. She’ll get there, but look at what her body has had to overcome the past 9 months.

My breast doctor is an active triathlete. She wants you to be moving around and breaking things up so-to-speak. In fact, the day after surgery she had me up and walking down the hospital hallway. It hurt like h-e-double L and I was super sick during my stay, but I still did it. When I got home from the hospital, I was required to walk several times a day. Walking isn’t bad for your health!

You have no idea how badly I want to be back to training and back into my fitness routine. I’m a workout/race junkie.

You have no idea how much I doubted myself and was hard on myself because I wouldn’t be where I was prior to surgery or if I’d even be able to finish before the 10K went off.

You have no idea how much I want to plan out my 2015 race schedule. I’m not because I don’t know what tomorrow holds or when my implant exchange surgery will be.

You have no idea what I’ve had to overcome leading up to surgery, during/after surgery and even now.

So, please, don’t rain on my endorphin high!

I have to consider the source of those saying harsh things. I’m extremely proud of myself and for simply crossing the finish line. Felt great to be out there, have the burning lungs sensation, and be alive. It was slow compared to my prior races this year (and I took a few short walk breaks), but I was out there one foot in front of the other.

It’s like this whole process from coming to terms with being BRCA1 positive, educating and doing research about surgery/surveillance, coming to terms with moving forward with a surgery or surveillance, to having the surgery, dealing with slight complications after, and recovering and taking it easy. It’s not a walk in the park and there are ups and downs, just like a race course.

Anyway, next time you’re about to criticize someone for something you don’t think they should do…please think before you speak…unless they are one of those that don’t listen and follow doctor’s orders!

You know that saying your momma always said…if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say it at all.

Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one…unless you’ve had asshole cancer.

Ps: I’m preaching to myself here, too!


Jolie, Ann and I. They are both breast cancer survivors and amazing women!! Jolie and I ran together for the first mile. She set a new personal best 🙂


My tradition this year was to take a jumping picture at the finish line of each race I did. My friends did it with me. It was hard to extend the arms up and reach all the way. Not gonna lie, it kind of hurt!



With Susie and Krystal, two of my best friends who were incredibly supportive and were there for me when I was freaking out pre-race!!!!

Bells for Boobs Swingathon

Incredible weekend – Part 1 (I know, catchy title)

Yesterday I went to a Bells for Boobs fundraiser at a local gym. My triathlon teammate’s daughter organized the event to raise money for women at the nearby hospital to help pay for breasts screenings. It was awesome – there were sponsors involved, vendors there, raffle prizes and snacks.


Participants committed to swinging a kettle bell for an hour and collected donations. Some got people/sponsors to donate per swing and others just took general donations. One gentleman was in charge of the timer and would let them all know when the minute was up. It seemed like each participant came in with a goal of how many swings they could individually do in the minute. Each person had an index card so during their break between “minutes” they could tally how many they did.

I arrived before the event started and my friend’s asked me if I’d share my story prior to them swinging. Sure thing. Ugh…brain fart! I didn’t want to take up too much of there time from swinging and raising money. How do you summarize your story in a few, short minutes?!?!


(Sorry it isn’t the most flattering picture)

Everyone was so sweet afterwards and some thanked me for being extremely honest to complete strangers. I want to make a difference and share my story. I want people to get informed and be proactive with getting the genetic testing done if breast cancer and the BRCA gene runs in the family and to get routine mammograms done.

While participants were swinging, I talked with one very sweet lady who had breast cancer and was able to ask random questions about recovery and future stuff. She was so kind and encouraging and it was nice to talk with her. Honestly, I love talking to Survivors and hearing their stories!


I wish I could have participated in swinging a kettle bell, but I don’t think that would have worked out well…although there was a tiny one I could have used and raised money with my stellar bicep curls…Ha! See my rationalization!

The event was fantastic!! Everyone swung their hearts out! You could see pain in some, but they continued to push through and make it happen. My friend Susie came and I bumped into another friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was such a fun afternoon and I’m looking forward to next year!


Susie, Me, Mary, and Johnny

Thank you, Johnny and Mary for inviting me, Mollie for organizing the event, Ryan for opening up your gym and hosting this, those who sponsored the event, and everyone that participated.


ouch. fills. need i say more.

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The fills.

I had no clue what to truly expect at these fill appointments. My doctor filled me 200cc’s at the time of surgery. I would only need two more fills unless something went wrong.

I laid back and he brought a magnet and place it over my breast right above the nipple. Once it lined up, he marked the spot with a special pen and brought over a needle connected to an IV. He poked the needle into the spot, which was where the port is, and let the IV hang. From there, he attached this large syringe and started filling the expander with saline. Because I don’t have much feeling in my boobs, I didn’t feel him poke the one breast, but sort of felt the other. It’s really weird.

In my research leading up to surgery, I read online and talked to various women about the fills. Some ladies said it was awful and painful, while others said it wasn’t bad at all. The majority of them said it got more painful as you went along. Yep, they were right.

My friend Jen took me to my third follow-up appointment on September 26th, which was to get the rest of my grenades (drains) out. They took one out the week before. The doctor and his assistant looked at how I was healing, took the remaining 3 drains out, and hemmed and hawed as to whether or not they were going to fill me also. Most of the time they’ll take the drains out and have you come back at another time to get a fill. I was lucky. They determined my skin and body could handle the fill…only two and a half weeks post-op?! Perfect. I’ll take it.

85cc’s later, I developed the training bra boobs. I walked into the waiting area, laughed, and said to Jen, “Look, I have something”, while pulling my top tight against my chest. I laughed, she chuckled. I think I may have embarrassed her…I’m not so sure the rest of the people in the waiting room thought it was funny. We left and grabbed lunch at this place I’ve never been to before. The ride home didn’t go so well. I didn’t feel well and all of the sudden she’s pulling over on the side of the freeway and I’m outside the car hurling.

I was so sick the next 24 hours. I couldn’t keep anything down nor could I sleep at all. I was extremely uncomfortable. I called the doctor and let him know, and he said it was really odd I was puking. If I didn’t stop vomiting over the weekend, I’d have to come back on Monday for him to take some saline out.

Thank goodness I didn’t have to go in that Monday! I had some overall tightness in my chest but it only lasted a few days. The pressure and pulling did me in, but thank goodness the puking stopped. Who wants to take a few steps back in the recovery/fill process?!

This leads to October 17th – my  FINAL fill. He filled me 115cc’s!! Yay!!! This one sucked big time. My rocks are completely under the muscle, are miles apart, and bulge out a bit under my armpit. By making the rocks bigger, it’s pushing on the muscle as well. The muscle wants to retract back to where it was which causes the terrible pains. My total rock size is 400CC. At the time of surgery, the doctor filled me to 200cc because he knew my body could handle it. Mom said he came out of surgery super ecstatic. He doesn’t get to fill them that “full” like that that often.

My rocks are hard, uncomfortable, and sore. Before my rocks had some give and take. They’re hard because the shells are thicker and less flexible as they fill. Two days later and I’m in the most pain I’ve had in a while. I cannot get comfortable when I sleep and the rocks put pressure on my sternum as well as pull on the sternum/chest wall.

Please don’t take this as me complaining. Many of you have asked how I’m doing and this is me being completely honest. I knew going into this surgery that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This is the worst I have felt since coming out of surgery. My chest and upper body hurts. I cried Friday night. I’m sore. My chest is unbelievably tight. Things are being pulled in every direction possible. My skin is even more super sensitive than it was. My armpit pain came back with a vengeance. It’s been something I’ve been dealing with since the surgery, but Friday night I could barely move my right arm without a shooting pain or it going numb. Despite all of this, I’m staying positive, cracking jokes, laughing, and taking it one day at a time. On the bright side – I have some boxy boobs now.

I’m living my life and keeping myself busy to be distracted from the pain. My physical therapist told me to keep active and moving. This is my new norm right now and I have to cope and accept it. I’m going to continue doing my therapy exercises, walking 3-4 miles on the treadmill, and “killing my legs” as PT called it. I’m cleared to ride my bike on the trainer, walk/jog, lift my 2 pound weights, and do any kind of leg routine I want. I’m just not allowed to swim (aww, shucks!) and do a whole lot of ab things. Everything is done in moderation. I’m given an inch and will NOT take a mile. Promise!

Things will get better…eventually. For now, I’m going to thank my lucky starts to be alive, breathing and healthy. I’m going to enjoy my firm jugs and lack of having to wear a sports bra…well, actually, I can’t wear them anyway due to the super-sensitive skin. Darn.

If you were to ask me if I’d do this all over again, I would say yes in a heartbeat. If you were to ask me if I could have changed and gone with smaller fills, I’d say no. Go big or go home. I trust my doctor and am completely happy he felt I could handle those amount of fills. All of this pain is completely worth it. I don’t have to worry about the 87% chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime.

What’s next?

I’m done with my fills and now it’s a waiting game. Everything needs to settle. The reconstructive doctor and I haven’t decided what size boob we’re going to go with. I’m totally comfortable with him making the final call. I have some more follow-up appointments down the road and from there he’ll decide when we can move forward with the exchange surgery. This second surgery seems like a lifetime away. It’s typically an outpatient surgery where they exchange the expanders for saline or silicone implants.


Ta-ta to the Tata’s

I haven’t quite settled on what to blog next – there’s been many things going through my mind and I’ve been writing a lot. Do I share random things I’ve written about leading up to surgery? Do I write more in-depth about what’s going on now 5 weeks post-op? I don’t have the answer. However, today I’m going to share with you something I wrote on Monday, September 8th. I had several friends over for a little party…

photo 1

Ta-Ta to the Tata’s

I don’t throw many parties and growing up we didn’t have birthday parties, sweet 16, congratulations to adulthood, or whatever you want to call them kind of parties. Tonight was special. I had a boob voyage party that had everything from a booby cake, to booby cookies, to pink wine, and balloons made into boobs. It was so nice to breathe, laugh, and have fun. My friend’s really helped me stay positive and gave me many laughs.

I feel like tonight was kind of like a shower – bid farewell to a part of my body, acknowledge the circumstances, put some humor into something that isn’t so funny, and honor me. I remember my first ‘training bra’, sports bra, push-up bra, and all those ugly in-between bras Mom would pick out (no offense, Mom). Each represented a different set of memories in life of a girl and woman.

It was a small party – about 10 people – my sister and close friends. Tonight was a really fun night because many of my amazing friends came over to have a “Goodbye to the Tata’s” party. My friend went to Spencers and got a boob cake pan on her lunch break (funny story about that). She came over early so we could make a boob cake and decorate my house. The cake turned out awesome. Susie called many bakeries, but they wouldn’t make the cake because it may give them a bad name. What?!?!

The thing I remember the most about tonight is all the laughter and smiles we all had. We talked about boobs, of course, and everything under the sun. The funniest thing was when my awesome friend (who shall remain nameless, but name starts with an S) shouted out, “I can’t wait to get to second base with you.” She’s never felt fake boobs on someone. The only ones she felt up were the ones sitting on the counter of the patient’s room at my doctor’s office

Some people may get disturb about joking and laughing about this kind of situation. I may be able to laugh more easily than some. Don’t get me wrong, reality is it’s not amusing cutting off my boobs on Wednesday. I’m sure it won’t be so funny when I can’t sleep because the expanders dig into my chest wall or pull on my sternum or the drains snag or I can’t move at all. But, I know when humor won’t be welcomed. I’m still going to keep my positive attitude throughout this whole journey and turn things into laughter.

Susie made a breast cancer ribbon card and had everyone sign it with well-wishes. I promised myself I wasn’t going to read it until Wednesday. Fail! A friend taped it up on my hallway light switch and I kept walking past it. After everyone left, I was turning lights off and couldn’t help myself from reading everyone’s note. I had to stop myself from crying tonight, because I know if I cry I won’t get it back together. I’m keeping this up on the wall as a daily reminder after surgery that tonight was one special night and I have some amazing people in my life.

These friends came over to support me and show how much they cared. It means the world to me how much love, care and support I have around me. I’m overwhelmed and touched. Tonight, I walked away feeling so very, very loved and incredibly blessed. I have some amazing people in my life that will help me get through this surgery. It was such a fun night and one I’ll remember forever. After all, how many “Ta-ta to the Tata’s” parties can one have?!?! I think I know what the next party will be…”Hello Memory Foam Ta-ta’s!!!”

Thank you to everyone that came tonight. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but I hope each of you know how much you mean to me.

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Side note: I know some of you reading this don’t get why you’d throw a boob party and think it weird. I celebrated the power of knowledge and not being succumbed to the “what-ifs” and anxiety that comes with being BRCA1.

Two Words: Endless Gratitude

I am told I can be ambivalent (really!?!?). I wanted to share my story, but didn’t want to share it. I wanted people to know about my surgery, but didn’t want people to know. I’ve debated about opening up and sharing, and finally told myself I would when I was ready. I told some people prior to my surgery and I apologize to the rest of you for not letting you know (blog for a later date). I shared my blog on my Facebook page and had NO idea where it would take me or what the outcome would be. I was nervous. I looked at the stats on my page today and people have viewed my blog in United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and all over the US!

Wow. Thank you for sharing my story! As I’m sitting here typing and trying to find the right words to say, I’m speechless and brought to tears…those of you that know me, know I don’t cry or tear up easily.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m humbled.

Thank you for being there, encouraging me, thanking me for sharing my story, sending me well-wishes for a speedy recovery, praying for me (and my family), and sharing my blog post. Thank you for reaching out to me via texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, and emails. I appreciate and am moved by how many of you reached out and have continued to reach out. I still have emails and texts to respond back to…I’ve seen them all and promise to respond.

Thank you to all of those who have helped me out in some way – whether it was coming to the hospital or my house to see me, taking me to a doctor’s appointment, coming and bringing me food, helping me with my laundry, “milking” my grenades (drains), bringing flowers over/delivering flowers to me, etc etc. I appreciate EVERYTHING you all have done to make sure I was okay.

Saying thank you doesn’t seem to be enough. I hope I can someday pay all the kindness you’ve shown me forward. I am so incredibly blessed with all of you amazing people around me. You all have inspired me!!!

Thank you.

How Far Would YOU Go?

Growing up I never knew that much about cancer and I certainly had no idea that breast and ovarian cancer ran in my Dad’s side of the family. When I was a little girl, I remember making weekly visits to see my grandma. She was gravely ill. Little did I know cancer would take her life. She was a two-time breast cancer survivor. But, it was the silent killer, ovarian cancer, which would kill her.

When my aunt was 38, cancer struck again. She was diagnosed with cancer; and the genetic testing came back. BRCA1 Positive. She went through chemo and treatments, had a bilateral mastectomy and has been cancer free for quite some time now. As I got older, I understood what cancer was and knew the gene ran in the family, and it’s always been in the back of my mind to get the genetic testing done.

Fast forward to 2014.

I was out for a jog on cool day in March and my phone vibrated. A text from Sarah, my older sister (but not by much). Her biopsy came back and she had breast cancer. I struggled the rest of my run and tried to keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks. How could my sister be diagnosed at 29? What does that mean for me being 26? Will I be in her shoes in a few years? Is it BRCA1 related? Is she okay?

We didn’t know much at the time and had to play the waiting game. My sister lives in South Carolina. Some of my siblings went down to see her, but I wasn’t quite ready. A few weeks later, I went to my mom with urgency that I HAD to go see her and the time was now. We booked a flight and less than 24 hours later, Liz and I were on an airplane. Little did I know, that same day Sarah called my mom and told her the genetic testing results came back but they wouldn’t tell her over the phone.

I got to South Carolina and was able to be at her port “installation” surgery and geneticist appointment where the results were read. It was indeed BRCA1. We all were crying as the sweet doctor read the outcome and what it meant. She gave us all papers and a copy of Sarah’s results so I could get tested when I got home. In fact, the doctor offered to move the schedule around and test me right then and there. I told her no. I wanted to go home and get my ducks in a row before doing such a huge, high risk test that could ultimately affect my life-insurance policy and a few other things.

If you don’t have life insurance or do have it and want to make changes, you cannot do the genetic testing until the insurance policy is approved. You cannot have future appointments either, because they’ll wait for the appointment dates/results and then approve or deny your policy. I already had a policy but wanted to modify it and make sure everything was to my liking should I be stuck with a positive test result. When you test positive, it’s extremely difficult to up your policy. Life insurance policy differs from health insurance whereas it can abide by its own rules and can “discriminate” against you for preexisting conditions or high risk things. Sidenote: if you want to get the genetic testing done, get alllll your ducks in a row first.

Before long I, too, was sitting in a lab getting blood drawn. My younger sister, Liz, set up an appointment at the same time. We both saw the genetic counselor the same day and I can’t tell you how awesome it was for her to be there too. The counselor was very kind and sweet, but I didn’t want to talk about “what-if’s”. I knew what I would do if my test came out positive. Besides, there was no need to discuss a positive test result because I was seeing breast cancer first hand. What was there to discuss?

Thank goodness our genetic counselor was amazing and even had us laughing. We came prepared with all of the family test results, including my aunt’s, and had my dad’s family tree completed. I took a lot of notes and remembered things quite well. The one thing that stuck out in my mind was, “what if Liz had the gene and I didn’t or vice versa? What if neither one of us had the gene and Sarah was the only girl in the family to test positive?” The counselor was concerned about that, and spent some time going over that to make sure we both were psychologically prepared and equipped with how we’d move forward.

We left her office, May 8th, and I was at peace. There was nothing I could do. Everything was out of my control. There was nothing I could do to my DNA to change it.

My life changed May 20th, 2014. My phone rang and my worst nightmare was reality. I tested positive for the gene mutation.

When you’re a carrier for BRCA1, you have an 87% chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime and a 44% chance of ovarian cancer. That’s extremely high risks. I felt my breasts were a ticking time bomb and I was playing Russian Roulette.

I was 26 when I got the news. Called my parents, told my siblings, and checked out. The gentleman on the phone told me about my 4 options, which was also discussed in the genetic counseling appointment. I already knew and had been doing research since my sister’s diagnosis.

The 4 options were:

  1. Do nothing! (which is complete foolishness!)
  2. Do a preventative chemo treatment drug, which would only reduce my odds for up to 5 years.
  3. Do surveillance – for breasts, I had to do monthly self-exams and mammograms and MRI’s twice a year; and for ovaries, vaginal ultrasounds and CA-125 blood tests twice a year.
  4. Do prophylactic surgeries.

After getting the call, I set up my mammogram and other appointments with breast surgeons and reconstructive surgeons.

My mammogram appointment was interesting. My friend met me at the hospital, because my mom was in South Carolina. I was anxious after because what if they found something? My surgeon appointments were straight-forward and I was extremely pleased with both of them. They put my mind at ease, spent over two hours with me and explained things in great detail. I didn’t even bother to get a second opinion. I LOVED them.

After meeting with them, I randomly bumped into people who had breast cancer and would ask them who their surgeons were. A lot of them said the same name (which was the doctor I met with). Some people would tell me they wished they went with her. I knew I was making the right decision.

After seeing my gynecologist and telling her the news, she immediately ordered the CA-125 blood test and sent me to the lab. Once again, I found myself getting poked and two tubes of blood taken. She ordered the vaginal ultrasound and within a week I was in another office getting poked and prodded with this uncomfortable probe. All of these visits were extremely stressful. When would I get the call saying they found something? Would this be the time they find something?

Like my aunt, grandma, and sister, I knew breast cancer would be in my future at some point. I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t handle the anxiety of doctor’s appointments on top of how expensive everything was beginning to be…and this was the first year of surveillance! I decided if I was going to lose my breasts, it would be on my terms, not cancer’s.

I had my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM) September 10, 2014. Making the decision to have the surgery was extremely difficult, but yet, easy. I can’t tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep, but with the knowledge I faced, the decision was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going to walk around with ticking time bombs or wonder when my body would turn against me. I poured over research, talked to other women who were BRCA1, read blog after blog, emailed several ladies from the blogs, and reached out to those with cancer. I’m very analytical and weighed all my options. I made a pros and cons sheet for the surgery. I made the best decision for me.

From the time I got the call saying BRCA+ to making a decision on surgery it was only a matter of a few weeks. I knew in the back of my mind, surgery was the only way to go (and I knew that when I met with the genetic counselor).

I knew the surgery would be hard, both physically and emotionally. But, if I heard the words you have cancer down the road, I could only be mad and upset with myself. My decision boiled down to three things: being told I would be Sarah in a few years, statistics, and my health right now. Doing the surgery earlier in life, while being young, single and healthy, would make the recovery process somewhat easier (and boy has it made a difference).

I’ve been extremely blessed to have a great deal of support from friends and family. But, I’m also aware not everyone agrees with my decisions. I’ve had some people say some awful things to me and even lost a few friends over it. I’ve felt judged and I would be lying if I said my feelings weren’t hurt from time to time. One guy friend went as far as saying, “I would NEVER date a girl with fake boobs.” One lady looked at me and said, “Well, you get a free boob job and can choose your size now.” Actually, I’m paying thousands of dollars to meet with doctors/surgeons, have tests done…how is this a free boob job? Another person told me they were just boobs and could be replaced. Be replaced? Replaced with fake boob, be carved out like a pumpkin, lose feelings in both breasts and never be able to breastfeed my child should I have one. Oh, and never be able to feel my child/newborn lying on my chest. That’s right, they’re just boobs. Yes, but they’re MY breasts. Another told me I was being ridiculous and only making this decision out of fear. Fear? Perhaps fear played a little part. But don’t tell me you wouldn’t make the decision if your sister was going through hell and you very well could be in that situation in a few short years (to which I was told by numerous doctors that would be me…oh, yes, keep reading. I’ll get into that, too)

No one wants to get cancer.

No one wants to watch a loved one go through anything that could go wrong – go wrong with chemo and biopsies. No one wants to lose their breasts and ovaries.

I loved my breasts. In fact, it was the one thing I absolutely loved about my body. They were perfect because they were mine. It was an easy decision to do the surgery, but not an easy decision to part with my feminine body parts. How would I explain my lack of boobs to people? Would I be insecure after surgery not having any? (to which I can honestly say now that I am NOT insecure with not having any).

I have grown so much since March when my sister was diagnosed and May when I received the BRCA1+ news. Even though I don’t have breasts right now and have rocks in my chest (expanders), I feel more beautiful, more comfortable with life, more confident, and definitely more feminine. As someone told me a few months ago, “being empowered is a wonderful thing and having peace of mind is priceless.” Knowledge is power. Power to take control and control the outcome.

Well, what about ovarian cancer?

I am choosing to do active surveillance. I am not comfortable or ready to do an oophorectomy or hysterectomy. I am single and don’t have any kids. I would like to get married and maybe have kids of my own, but if that doesn’t happen I’m okay with that too. I will make a decision on a hysterectomy by age 32. 35 is the standard age to consider removing, but why wait when I know it already runs in the family. Until then, I will continue to be faithful to take care of my body and be active with screenings.

My advice for others affected by BRCA1+ is to listen to medical professionals but to do your own research.

I spent hours and months researching the gene to understand all the risks the gene mutation has. I understood the risks of complications and the potential for longer recovery. I also spent countless hours on the phone with doctors, surgeons and other women and listened to their opinions and first-hand stories. I was fully aware of everything and able to make an informed decision.

I made my decision and completely stand by it, nor do I regret it one bit! When my pathology report came back and there were atypical cells found in both breasts and a small lump in my right breast, a sense of relief and joy came rushing through my body. In my case, my cells were already beginning to mutate and change. Being BRCA1, my body allows the cells to grow, divide uncontrollably and eventually forming a tumor. They didn’t get to the point of growing outside the ductal and becoming a lump, but they were well on the way to becoming cancerous.

I made the right decision. Period.

People said I was crazy and extreme. Yep, they can think that, but I don’t believe it. I prevented cancer from taking control of me. I controlled the situation. I controlled the outcome. I’d rather be proactive than reactive.

The hardest part in this process has been the recovery. I woke up after surgery feeling like a MAC truck hit me. Or like I told my mom, “I feel like I have an elephant sitting on my chest just chilling out.” I’d like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (thanks to my 6 brothers). The pain hasn’t really been an issue. In fact, I haven’t had any pain meds for the past 5 days (score!). The downtime has me pulling my hair out. I’m a very active person and don’t like sitting still. I’m always on the go and being told I cannot do something is quite frustrating. I just want to put my hair in a ponytail. I’ve had my moments, but I feel I’ve stayed pretty positive this whole time and haven’t complained.

I’m three weeks out, feeling amazing, loving my mosquito bites…but extremely antsy. I’m feisty and ready to get back into my normal. I miss running, biking, strength training, and swimming…wait, did I say swimming?!? I’m going to be going back to work for a few hours here and there throughout the week. I’m not quite ready for an 8-hour, 40-hour work week. I don’t want to rush things and end up a few steps back. I’m learning patience.

Through the struggles, I have learned much about myself, my body and my mind. I did this! I will get through it. I am alive, breathing and healthy. Nothing can stop me now!

I am extremely lucky to have this knowledge that my Grandma didn’t have. I’m lucky to have the choice to be a Previvor instead of a Survivor. I don’t have to worry about the 87% hereditary risk of getting breast cancer. I don’t have to worry about future mammograms/MRI’s or worry about my ticking time bombs.

Knowledge is Power.

So, let me ask you, if you knew your car had faulty brakes, would you still get it in and drive it around?


If you knew you had the BRCA gene mutation, how far would YOU go to avoid breast/ovarian cancer?


PS: Today is National Previvor Day and kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m going to celebrate being a Previvor with a nap and a nice dinner out…Mosquito bites and all…