ON TESTING POSITIVE FOR THE BRCA GENE

  1. Last month I tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation
  2. What is the BRCA gene mutation?
  3. The gene mutation is correlated with cancer. This does not mean I HAVE cancer it just means my chances of getting it are anywhere from 50-85% greater than the general population over my lifetime
  4. I met with a genetics counselor at Mass General Hospital who extensively went through my family history to see how the gene acts and especially what ages the women in my family have been diagnosed
  5. They suggest that you take the youngest age at diagnosed in your family and test 10 years prior. For me it was 29, so at age 23 it was important to be tested.
  6. My mom carries the gene and did develop stage 0 breast cancer but because she was genetically tested about 10 years ago it was caught so early it was not a threat AND she removed her ovaries so my mom is good👌🏽
  7. But what if she didn't get tested?! That's why this is important
  8. She had a 50/50 chance of passing it down and to fit that statistic exactly my sister tested negative 🙏 and I tested positive
  9. I don't consider this a burden, and I never want my mom to feel bad or responsible
  10. Today I had my first follow up appointment
  11. My screening went well and I appear normal! It is very unlikely this should cause issues for me in my 20s
  12. That being said my doctor gave me a timeline of what to do at each age
  13. Now through 25 I should just have my yearly check up
  14. At 25-30 I should have 6 month check ups and a yearly MRI
  15. At 30 onward I should have 6 month check ups and have 1 MRI and 1 Mammogram a year
  16. Around that age I should start thinking about the mastectomy (removal of breasts) according to my doctor this would cause loss of sensation in the breasts but with modern reconstruction surgery breasts can keep the nipple in tact and still look great. This surgery helps rid the risk of cancer in almost 100% of all people (according to my doctor)
  17. That made me feel better. On my own research, being in my 20s seemed scary to remove my breasts if I didn't necessarily need to. I respect the women who go forth with that but I'm not ready to say goodbye to them yet
  18. 35 (or when you are done having children) removal of the ovaries should take place. Unfortunatley there's no screenings or detection for ovarian cancer until it's already significant which is why removal is so important. My doctor hoped that by the time I'm 35 there will be another option but for the standards of today that's how it is.
  19. So at 23 there's not a ton I can do. There's both comfort and distress to that. But I consider myself very lucky and am so grateful for modern medicine/technology that this is even an option.
  20. Genetic testing is so important. If breast/ovarian cancer is as strong in my family as it is in yours please consider it.
  21. "I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options." - Angelina Jolie
  22. If you test positive there's incredible support groups called:
  23. FORCE
  24. Bright Pink
  25. And these have their own communities in all areas of the country
  26. Take care of yourselves everyone! To anyone that's dealt with cancer personally or someone close to them has I send my love and positive vibes💕