maybe this weight was a gift

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?!]

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2 thoughts on “maybe this weight was a gift

  1. Dear Krys,

    Thank you for this post 🙂 I have so many emotions going through me right now, but first I want to give you a hug. In this world, breasts define “woman” and I think it’s a big deal to have to accept that something that defines (I don’t think it does) your gender is going to also screw up your life. And it’s an even bigger deal and requires a lot of courage to say that I am going to take them out.

    I just realised that in the case of Breast Cancer, diagnosis could be arrived at early and thereby prevented or treated with a fair amount of success. I don’t know if I would have done the same thing, but I totally understand where you’re coming from and support your decision to get tested and to have a mastectomy!

    Just wanted to clarify that in the case of Dementia, there being no long term solution, it is actually like sitting on a time bomb 🙂 and therefore more advisable that people concentrate on living fully. But yes, even in Dementia there are cases like the entire community in Colombia that marries within itself and now has Early Onset Alzheimer’s running in their genes. So I guess, in some cases, information does become power.

    I am so glad I found your blog and through it, the journey of so many women going through BRCA with so much dignity and strength.

    My prayers are with you and all of them for a long and healthy and fulfilling life.

    All my love,

    Henri

    • Well, getting tested is what will allow for an early diagnosis if/when I get breast cancer. The mastectomy is the plan for the future – 99.9%, at least – but not for at least five more years, probably. I could absolutely change my mind there, although it’s unlikely.

      I absolutely see where you’re coming from with dementia. If I were predisposed to something like Alzheimer’s, I’m not sure I’d want to test, either. If it’s not preventable or treatable, why would I necessarily need to know, you know? It just all depends on the issue at hand, I think!

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