More and more lately, I’ve started to realize why people who have tested positive for the BRCA mutation(s) consider themselves “lucky.” It’s not that having this mutation is a great thing. Frankly, I think it sucks, and I’ll always think it sucks. But knowing you have the mutation – and being able to make decisions based upon that fact – is, admittedly, invaluable.
A friend of mine has an acquaintance who is around my age (mid-20s) and was recently diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer. I’m a creepshow and I’ve popped into her blog a few times, always finding myself in awe of her strength and honesty. I also find myself feeling grateful. Is there a guarantee that, if I get cancer, I’ll catch it early? No, of course not – but the chances are pretty damn high with a mammogram and an MRI every year. As long as I have my natural breasts, I’ll undergo screening every six months. I believe that, if I keep my breasts, I’ll get cancer (87% is nothing to sneeze at), but if I do, it’s likely I’ll be able to catch it early enough to be treated and avoid the cancer spreading.
But! The other thing? I do plan on having preventative surgery. And I have the luxury of being prepared. It’s going to be horrible and scary and sad to go through a prophylactic mastectomy, sure – but it will be my choice. I’ll get to decide when I have the surgery. I’ll get to decide the type of reconstruction I want, the doctors and surgeons I want to see. I’ll have surgery before cancer mandates I do so, and I can take the time to prepare, to be ready, to know that it’s my choice.
And it absolutely makes me feel lucky. On March 30th, I wanted to die. I thought my life had already ended, that I’d never smile again, that I’d never look forward to another day because every day was going to be devastating all over again. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how anyone would feel lucky about something like this. It just made me angry.
It’s been nearly four months since then. A lot of tears, a lot of obsessing and researching and talking, and here I am. And I get it now.
[Other reasons I’m lucky: I’m working crazy hours right now but I feel productive and kick-ass; I’m running again on my own self-designed plan and can currently run 1.25 miles without stopping; one of my best friends in the world is visiting me this weekend & we have plenty of fun things planned; and did I mention I’m GOING BACK TO EUROPE?!]