You may remember from some of my earlier posts that my husband is a fireman. Well, what you probably don’t know is that the first night I ever talked to him (holy crap… has it really been 11 years?!), he was wearing a pink polo shirt and khaki shorts. I knew as soon as I saw him in that pink polo that we were going to get along JUST FINE. =) Ha! All to say, given that I clearly love a man in pink and I have appreciation for firemen, you can only imagine my response when I saw this picture on Pinterest!
Firemen. Pink. Breast cancer awareness. Love. I think the St. Matthews fire department should invest in some new uniforms!!!
Speaking of my fireman husband, he has been busy traveling for his part-time job and working at the fire station. He’s been gone for the last couple of days. In the beginning of my surgery recovery, his time at the station was a little challenging because that meant I needed to coordinate drivers to doctor’s appointments and people to come help me do things around my house. However, that’s not the case anymore! The last week of my recovery has really been awesome. My chest is becoming much less sore. I even wore my seatbelt across my chest today for the first time! I haven’t been expanded in over a week, so I’m sure that has contributed to my improvement. I get expanded again this Monday and I’m hoping that my body continues to feel good afterward.
While my husband has been gone, I have been trying to keep busy. One of the best things I did the last couple of days is get together with another woman, Katie Pass, who lives in Louisville and is also BRCA2+.
Katie and I actually met over facebook. Just 8 days after my surgery, Louisville’s newspaper, the Courier Journal, featured an article about a woman choosing to have elective surgery after finding out she was BRCA+. The article explained a lot of interesting things about BRCA, told Katie’s story, and explained how she decided to have a preventative mastectomy. Obviously, being a week post surgery, this article struck a chord with me and I posted it to my facebook wall.
The article was really wonderful. If you are interested in reading it, you can click on the link below:
Anyway, after sharing the link on facebook, it only took a few minutes for someone to comment and tag Katie’s name. Then, with just a click, I was able to find her on facebook. Facebook really makes finding people way too easy. I sent her a message and we messaged back and forth for a few days until we finally decided to get together and talk yesterday.
Once we started talking, I realized how much we really have in common. Our surgeries took place within two weeks of one another. Both of our moms passed away from BRCA related cancers. We live just a few blocks apart from one another. We are two years apart in age. Neither of us have had kids yet. We even have the same plastic surgeon!
During our conversation, I kept thinking about how glad I felt, knowing we’d had the chance to meet. It was so therapeutic and comforting to finally meet someone who has struggled with the same experiences and choices in the same period of their life. Don’t get me wrong… my friends and family have been ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Some of them have shown empathy to me in ways I didn’t think possible. However, there was so much power in telling someone my story and knowing they truly understand because they have lived it TOO… the loss of a mom, the dreaded genetic diagnosis, the overwhelming choices, the surgeries, the angst about the future, the hate for cancer and what it has done to our families.
After almost two hours, we agreed that it felt like we’d known each other much longer than just a few days. We even decided to get together again today with another BRCA+ woman, Kim,who also lives here in Louisville. Today’s meeting was also great because Kim has known her BRCA status for much longer than me. She was able to fill me in on all kinds of info regarding the surgeries and tests I will need in the future. Here we are at Vint, a local coffee shop, discussing all things BRCA…
I know, I know… this picture is blurry. My fault. We asked a poor innocent coffee drinking bystander to take the picture and I didn’t bother checking it once we were done. Whoops. Katie is in the front with the long blonde hair and Kim is the snazzy lady in the red sweater (you should have seen her super cute hounds tooth pencil skirt!). It might be hard to tell in the picture… but let me tell you… Katie is two weeks post surgery and looking fabulous!!
I feel so lucky to have met some wonderful women who have shared their BRCA stories with me. Until this week, I have never known anyone who was BRCA+ besides my mom. Meeting others with the gene helps me feel so much more positive about my choices and my future. My body has been doing an excellent job healing… my heart is doing a great job as well.
If you are struggling with genetic testing decisions or being BRCA+, please reach out to others or local organizations that can help you get in touch with others who are BRCA+. It makes such a huge difference.
If you are interested in reading more about Katie and her BRCA journey, she also has a blog outlining her preventative mastectomy experience. Here is the link:
Have a wonderful night.