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The BRCA Gene. Are You At Risk?

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For as long as I can remember, October has been covered in pink to raise awareness regarding breast cancer. As a community, our awareness does seem to be increasing. All month long we raise money for foundations by walking, running, wearing pink and celebrating the bravery of those going through the disease and also life as a survivor. But does being aware that breast cancer is an important issue that affects many women mean we are informed enough? Do we know the answers to the many questions we will have should we become personally affected?

For me, until a few months ago, that was my truth. I am a 31-year-old single mother. I am active, eat healthy, am a non-smoker and stay away from harsh chemicals. How could I possibly be at risk for something so terrible? Those thoughts rushed through my mind when my doctor told me I am a carrier of the same BRCA gene that 12 women in my family also carry. I found out about the BRCA gene when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I felt so many different emotions on that day and the news affects me still.

Depression crept in. Suddenly, everything I thought I knew, I questioned. Was I going to let this horrible disease define me as a woman, or was I going to be proactive and let my reaction determine my future? I have a 12-year-old son who watches everything I do, and I must be strong and healthy for him. Knowing I have the gene, I immediately began researching ways to be proactive. It was a high risk that the cancer would develop unless the tissue was removed. Knowing that, my choice was simple. The decision to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery was the only option for me. After making that decision, I felt invigorated. I have learned an incredible lesson throughout this experience and hope I can help others become more informed while inspiring the courage to apply that information in a way that is best for them. We should not allow a situation to define who we are, but we can become stronger because of it.



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