I know, without a doubt, that am able to take steps to save my life because of God and the courage shown by some of my sweet family members. This blog is completely dedicated to them.
First, and obviously the most influential, is my beautiful mom. I think about her everyday and I know that if she had never had genetic testing, I would never have known that I carry the BRCA gene. She’s not here anymore and I miss her terribly, but I feel her with me constantly.
I know I am biased, but she was very talented and absolutely beautiful. She was even Ms. Kentucky in the National College Queen Pageant in the early 60’s.
Even though I didn’t have her as long as I wanted, I was so blessed to have had a wonderful mom who loved me while she was here. She passed away on August 17, 2011.
After speaking with a genetic counselor, we are fairly certain that my mom’s mom also carried the BRCA2 gene. My sweet grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s. She had unilateral mastectomy at her time of diagnosis. Years later, she developed breast cancer in her remaining breast. She had surgery and radiation. She never had another recurrence. She passed away from bladder cancer in July of 2009 at the age of 89.
Like I said… I am biased… but she was also beautiful.
She always hated having her picture taken. I’m not sure why…? So, I’ll just post one picture of her because I know she would have a fit if she knew I was putting them on the internet. Ha!
The genetic counselor is also fairly certain that my grandmother’s brother also carried the BRCA gene. A lot of people don’t know it, but men can be BRCA+. Although the risk is lower, BRCA+ men can develop breast cancer and the gene is also linked to prostate cancer. My great uncle developed prostate cancer in the early 90s.
I was so young when he got sick. I don’t have many memories of him… but I do remember him being at my house on Christmas morning when I got my first My Little Pony Castle! Kids always remember the funniest things! My great uncle passed away from prostate cancer in 1993.
There are some other members on my mom’s side of the family who may have also been carriers of the gene, but because of the lack of technology in the past, we can’t be sure.
I know that if genetic testing had been around before their diagnoses, my mom and grandmother would have elected to have preventative surgery. They were both so strong, graceful, and they fought cancer boldly. My choice for prophylactic surgery is not just for me… it is for them… so their suffering and courage can serve a purpose. I am so blessed to have had two amazing women pave the way for me to live free from breast cancer fear. Loving and missing them more everyday.