Overcoming Breast Cancer: A Personal Journey of Awareness and Strength
In this candid account, she shares her story, shedding light on the importance of genetic testing, early detection, and proactive decision-making.
Having harbored fears of this day for years, she had taken an at-home saliva test just three weeks prior, conducted by a genetic testing company, and had almost forgotten about it amidst her busy life. However, the results would prove to be life-altering.
Breast cancer had taken her grandmother, and her mother had undergone a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a form of stage 0 breast cancer that, if left untreated, can progress to invasive cancer. These familial experiences with breast cancer made her aware of the need for vigilance, but she had mistakenly believed that breast cancer primarily affected women.
The revelation came when her doctors at Schaffer, Schonholz & Drossman in New York and her general practitioner, Dr. Allison Spatz, suggested genetic testing due to her family history. This recommendation ultimately saved her life. The test results indicated that she was BRCA2 positive, a gene mutation that significantly increases the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Further testing, including sonograms and an MRI, confirmed her breast cancer diagnosis. Grateful for taking the genetic test, she emphasizes the importance of genetic testing for others and urges individuals to consult their doctors to determine its appropriateness for them.
Though her journey is arduous, she finds solace in the silver lining—the opportunity to raise awareness and encourage others to seek early genetic testing. She highlights the significance of regular screenings, especially utilizing MRI scans that can detect cancers missed by mammograms.
The author shares vital statistics about the risks associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, emphasizing that knowledge and early intervention can save lives. With a positive BRCA2 mutation, the chances of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 exceed 50% for women and 7 to 8% for men, according to reputable studies.
As she prepares for her double mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction, performed by esteemed surgeons Dr. Elisa Port and Dr. Mark Sultan at the Mount Sinai Health System, she acknowledges the importance of comprehensive treatment and preventative measures. Her journey will extend to the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes in the future to mitigate the heightened risk of ovarian cancer.
The author concludes her heartfelt account by urging readers not to be scared but to be proactive in seeking genetic testing and monitoring their health. She emphasizes the impact of early detection, awareness, and support from loved ones.
While she may be strong and determined to fight, she requests one thing from her network: support. Together, through raising awareness, encouraging testing, and advocating for early interventions, we can empower individuals in their battles against cancer.
This poignant account serves as a reminder of the importance of knowledge, resilience, and unity in the face of life-altering challenges.