Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Awareness

It’s that month again: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  I have my toes painted teal and have handed out Teal Toes cards (!  I printed B.E.A.T. flyers from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition ( and put them up at useful places at my work.  Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is definitely less well known than October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but is nonetheless extremely important.   

Last September, I wrote a post describing the differences between how my Mother and her sister were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Their stories are very different with regard to their symptoms, how their cancer was found, what stage their cancers’ were at diagnosis, etc.  My Mother was 49 when she lost her battle to this disease after fighting for 4 ½ years.  My Aunt was 52 when she lost her battle; less than 2 years following her diagnosis.  My Mother’s diagnosis came about 4 months after losing her sister to ovarian cancer.  I cannot even imagine how extremely scared she must have been.  Having a jerk doctor provide her original diagnosis and tell her she only had 6 months and all he could do was make her comfortable, didn’t help matters. 

The one thing that was not different between my Mother and Aunt was their family history.  They had lost their Mother from breast cancer when she was only 47 years old.  Their Mother had lost her own Mother from ovarian cancer at age 43.  Due to this family history and her own personal history (breast cancer at age 37, ovarian cancer at age 45) the doctors told my Mom that she probably had a genetic mutation.  She was diagnosed in 1994 and passed away in 1998, so all of the genetic testing information was still pretty new during that time.  The doctors also told her that most likely 2 of the 3 of us (her daughters) also had a mutation.  She did not want to get tested because she didn’t want to have her insurance drop her coverage – it was already so expensive for all of the cancer treatments, even with insurance!  She also didn’t want to cause a problem for us girls to get insurance coverage due to a genetic mutation.  Back then there weren’t the laws that are in effect now, such as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

My oldest sister was tested in 2002 and because it made her feel more comfortable, paid for her genetic testing out of her own pocket.  My middle sister had her testing in 2005 and also paid for hers.  I had my genetic testing in 2008 when my husband and I knew we were done having kids.  My insurance covered my genetic testing.  I have been extremely fortunate with my experiences with insurance companies during my BRCA experiences.  Unfortunately, some women have to argue and fight for their genetic testing, screening procedures (MRI, mammograms, pelvic ultrasounds, etc.) and prevention procedures (prophylactic mastectomy, reconstruction, prophylactic oophorectomy, etc.).  I have not had to argue for my testing, screening procedures or prevention surgeries and our insurance has even changed a few times since my BRCA1 positive results.  I think most insurance companies realize that paying for screening or prevention procedures actually saves them money in the long run.  Although it costs money for the surgeries, those expenses are nothing compared to the monthly (and yearly!) costs of treating someone for cancer.  If I had not had a prophylactic mastectomy, but instead waited to get breast cancer, the insurance company would have then had to help pay for the surgeries anyway, but also chemotherapy, possibly radiation, endless blood draws, and the list goes on.    

The last week in September is National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week; and the last Wednesday of September is National Previvor Day.  Last year (2010) a Congressional Resolution was passed to make these two things possible.  This week lies right between Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  A previvor is a survivor of a predisposition to cancer (  I am a previvor because I have a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer from my BRCA1 mutation.  If you want more information on previvors check out the FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) website above, which I have also blogged about previously.  For great information and resources about HBOC see the FORCE website and also Learn About HBOC.

There have been major advances in research and the medical community involving genetic mutations and preventative measures.  And the HBOC community has had extensive growth, with increased education, support and outreach.  I have been given the opportunity to prepare and have choices my Mother, Aunt, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother weren’t given.  I was given the chance to take a preemptive strike against cancer before it reared its ugly head in my body (well, at least in my breasts for the moment, my ovaries will come out soon).  I am so thankful to have the knowledge, options and support I do.  I am making choices, albeit difficult ones, in order to stop the pattern HBOC has had on my family for generations.  I will live past 50.  I will beat BRCA. 

So, Happy National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and in a couple days, Happy National Previvor Day!     

Here’s a list a great resources:

Until next time, here’s to scientific advances, education, and awareness! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011


8/8/98 – A date that will forever be imprinted in my memory.  The day a piece of my heart was taken, never to be repaired.  Thirteen years ago today my Mom lost her long battle with ovarian cancer.  Some years the day comes around and passes more smoothly.  And some years, my emotions throw my normalcy out of whack.  This year it has been the latter.  I have been a bit more emotional this last week leading up to today and today, itself, was kind of difficult too.  I’m not sure why this year seems more difficult than last year.  Maybe it’s because last year on August 8, I was only about 3 days out from my exchange surgery and not completely with it?  Maybe it’s because I have finally completed all of my surgeries (well, breast related, anyway) including three surgeries this past year?  Whatever, the reasons, I don’t think it necessarily matters. 

I lost my Mom that day and my life has never been the same.  A piece of me died that day too and part of my heart was irreversibly broken.  Her death definitely changed me.  I used to be very naive, extremely optimistic and quite a bit more happy-go-lucky.  I’m sure some of those characteristics diminish naturally with age, but who’s to say?  I’ll never know how different I would be today, had 8/8/98 not progressed as it had.

I watched, with my family, as Mom took her last labored breath that morning.  It was the most surreal moment of my life.  I remember hiding out in my sister’s room when the morgue came to take her body away from our house for the last time.  I was only 18 and honestly didn’t want to watch my Mom’s body carried away.  I wasn’t sure if I could handle that memory.  Today, I still think that was the right choice for me.   

I remember friends and family visiting that day.  And I remember lots of tears and lots of laughter as wonderful stories were relived about Mom.  My uncle took us to get dinner that night and I remember looking around and thinking, “Don’t these people know my world is crumbling around me?  How can they be acting normal, like nothing’s happened, when my Mom died today?”  It’s very strange to see how life goes on, even if you’re not ready for it to.  My sister later told me she was thinking the same types of thoughts. 

I’ve made great strides in making peace with her death.  It’s just not something I had prepared myself for, nor do I think a Mother’s death is something one can prepare for.  I still think it’s shitty (please, excuse my language) that I have had to live without my Mom since I was 18.  I think it sucks that she didn’t get to see me (or my sisters) get married, watch my college graduations, or see any of her grandchildren.  I wish I could call her, get a hug from her, hear her laugh, see her smile, hold her hand, just one more time.

I hope she is looking down on me from her beautiful place in heaven with the biggest smile.  [At my high school graduation she told me she would be the easiest to spot because she would be the one in the stands with the biggest smile! :)]  I hope I am making her proud.  If I could be a tiny portion of the woman she was, I would be so grateful.  She treated others with respect and love.  She had a great sense of humor and cared for others so much; she was a Mom-away-from-home for many.

I miss her each and every day, but I am so fortunate to have been blessed with such an amazing example and role model.

Until next time, here’s to Mothers, role models and unconditional love. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Overcoming Fears

Ideally, this post would have been posted before the “I finished!” a triathlon post, but you know…

As I explained in my “Triath…uhhh…what?” post, my sister, husband and I began training for a triathlon. We started training about mid-April and had a lot of firsts. First time I had ever run further than a mile, first time I had ever gone on a 5, 10, 15 and 20 mile bike ride, first time my booty had ever hurt so bad from riding a bike, first time I had ever ridden on a street bike, first time I had ever swam laps in the pool, first time I had ever worn one of those silly looking swim caps and goggles, first time I had ever swam “for real” in the ocean, and lots of others. My first time swimming in the ocean was also my first time to deal with a fear that I could not explain.

We got wetsuits, trekked our way to the beach and got started. Now mind you, we were not experienced enough to have the forethought to actually check a surf report prior to our trip over to the ocean. So, when we first arrived the three of us observed the waves, wide-eyed and glanced at each other. “Are we really going to do this?” we asked each other simultaneously. “Well, we really need to start practicing in open water…”

We got moving… Well, ok, it wasn’t a quick start. For those of you who don’t know, wetsuits are extremely difficult to get on! Especially for the first time! So, several minutes later when we finally yanked, stretched, tugged and squirmed our way into our wetsuits we made our way to the lifeguard stand. We decided we should inform the lifeguard that we were about to “try” swimming in the ocean and that it was our first time, so he could keep an eye on us. Or as my sister explained to her husband, “I figure I might as well introduce myself to the person who’s going to be giving me mouth-to-mouth soon, when he saves me from drowning!” We got to the lifeguard stand and informed the lifeguard, who had a very nice Australian accent, I might add. :) Oh, don’t worry, even my husband admits the lifeguard’s accent was nice! Anyway, Mr. Australia, told us the waves were pretty high (uh, duh! My husband looked that up after the fact and they were between 5 and 6 ft high at the time we went that day!), there was some type of pull from south to north, and some other ocean-talk details none of us understood. Then he said, but you are all pretty good swimmers, right? Uh – sure, we all thought, in a pool.

We eased our way in, and slowly started making our way out further away from the shore; all the while getting slammed over and over again by one big wave after another. I didn’t exactly have a specific technique because I didn’t really know what I was doing. My sister and my husband seemed to be thinking this was quite fun, while I kept getting slammed and receiving mouthfuls of salt water because I had to keep fussing with my goggles while trying to fight against the big waves. We moved out a bit past where the waves were breaking and then it was on our way back in that I started struggling. When we got to a point still somewhat far out where I could stand, I was really starting to wear out fast. Did I mention my husband and I had done a 20 mile bike ride earlier that day? Oh, yeah, so I was already a quite bit tired and the pull produced when the waves were coming was so strong that with each wave my feet would drag across the sand backwards out towards the ocean, not the shore. Then the big wave would come crashing into me, I’d stand up and the process would start all over again. I was making no headway and getting more exhausted and frustrated. My sister and husband were actually making it closer to shore, while I was just staying in the same place and I honestly could not move. I wasn’t sure how much more energy I could expend trying to get back to shore when I wasn’t able to make it any closer to shore minute after minute. I think due to a combination of being tired and feeling stuck, feelings of anxiety and panic began to overtake me.

There are many different types of fear and anxiety and I’m not sure exactly where mine stemmed from. It may have just been because my body was really tired from a 20 mile bike ride and from swimming (for the first time) out into a pretty rough ocean. It was also wearing me down because I felt like I was fighting and fighting to move forward, but just kept staying in pretty much the same place. My sweet husband could tell I was in a bit of distress and moved back to get me and helped pull me out from where I was stuck. I have never had something get to me quite like that experience did and both my husband and my sister said, “We love you, but you have to go back out there one more time today because we don’t want you to go home with negative thoughts or fear.” So, I let myself take a break and then we went back in, not very far, for a few minutes. All I could think was – there was no way I was going to be able to do a triathlon, if I couldn’t even go for the tiny little swim we just tried.

My husband looked up the surf report that evening and saw that the time we went was the worst the waves were going to be all week long. We pretty much picked the worst time to go for our first time out. The advantage and positive to that is that all other times seemed easy compared to the first time out there. I gained my confidence and lost my fear our second time trekking into the ocean. The waves we were competing against were only about 3 to 4 feet high and my sister had a great idea of slowly easing in and just diving under each wave over and over, until I felt more comfortable. For some reason that worked wonders and after that swim – I couldn’t even actually remember what had spooked me so much to begin with!

I apologize for this being such a long post – If you are still reading Thanks! I just wanted to share my experiences of fear and anxiety and demonstrate how sometimes you just need to push through obstacles, even if they produce unexplained anxiety or fear. Also, in addition to powering through by yourself, it’s unbelievable what you can do with the strength of loved ones backing you up.

I am so blessed to have my loving husband and family! Thanks so much to my husband and sister for helping me overcome a fear and not giving up on me or allowing me to give up on myself.

Until next time, here’s to overcoming fears, supportive loved ones and successfully swimming silicone! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I finished!!!

I finished!!!! I finished!!!! I finished!!!!

This morning was the triathlon and I crossed the finish line! After swimming in the ocean, biking and then running, I was so proud of myself! I have put my body through 3 surgeries (the mastectomy being pretty major) and tested my body’s limits in ways I never would have imagined myself doing. I honestly cannot believe that I just did what I did!

I am tired from not getting much sleep due to excitement and nervousness and getting up at 4-something this morning. And I feel pretty exhausted body-wise from, well, doing a triathlon! So, I truly appreciate the support you all have given me and I promise I will post again very soon updating how everything went today and I still will give the details I promised on my first open water swim experience too.

Until next time, here’s to accomplishing goals, seeing something through to the end (even if it’s tough) and silicone (which floats, bikes and runs!)! :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


One weekday about 3 months ago, my sister and I were talking on the phone about how we were trying to do better on our eating and exercising. She had run a half-marathon a couple years before and her husband was training for a marathon (they ROCK!) and she was talking about how training for a race helped her stick with her exercising. The next words out of her mouth were unexpected, “So…, I was thinking about doing a triathlon. My hope is that if I have to train for it I will definitely stick with it because I won’t want to not finish the triathlon.” My response? “That’s totally awesome!! You’ll have to make sure I know when and where because the boys and I will make signs and cheer you on!” The next words out of her mouth? “Ummm…wanna do it with me?” Wait – what’d she just say?! I must have heard her wrong! “Yeah, right! I couldn’t do that! I can’t even run!” Now, for those who don’t know me, I am (well, let me rephrase that – WAS) fairly athletic. I played softball and volleyball in high school, so exercise isn’t totally a foreign language to me. However, not only am I not anywhere near being 18 anymore, I also have never been a runner. I really don’t like running much and about 1 mile is the most I had ever been required to run.

“It’s not just running. It’s swimming and biking,” was her reply. Yeah, okay, that makes me want to do it more! NOT! I haven’t been the best at exercising since I had the boys, so…like 5ish plus years. Not to mention the exercise restrictions I’d had over the last year with all of the surgeries. Needless to say, I am not really in the best shape. But the more I thought about it and the more we talked about it, the more I thought maybe this would be a good idea. If I paid for the entry fee into the triathlon, I wouldn’t want to waste my money. And I am kinda competitive, so if I was doing a triathlon, I would definitely finish the race. Of course, this meant that in order to be able to finish the race, I would have to train (i.e. exercise) and follow a strict training schedule because failure is not an option. So, I told her maybe and I’d talk to my husband and see if he wanted to do it too. After talking later that same night, my husband and I decided we were in and we downloaded a beginner triathlon training schedule and started training the next day.

I have thought about writing a blog about this since we started mid-April, but to be honest, I was so worried about not being able to complete a triathlon or actually be able to keep up with the necessary training. However, now it has been 3 months and our first sprint Triathlon is next Sunday morning. You read that right – we trained, we signed up and now it is already here next week!

The great thing about this has been that we have stuck with it. It’s been difficult and extremely time consuming, especially with both my husband and I working full-time. Our boys have been so sweet and understanding – fortunately they really enjoy the gym childcare and on weekends we train with my sister while my dad watches the boys during those sessions. It has gone by really fast and the three of us still have a ton to learn, but the time has come.

I am so amazed with my body and how much it has been through this last year. Even after three major surgeries in less than a year, I was able to push it through rigorous daily training (usually 6 days a week). As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t training I have done before where it was just a matter of “bouncing” back. I honestly don’t think I have ever had to run more than a mile my whole life and the sprint triathlon is 3 miles. And preceding that 3 mile run is 9 miles of biking and preceding that is a ¼ mile swim in the ocean! It is amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it! I never would have thought I could train for a triathlon in my lifetime, let alone start 1 month following my revision surgery. I know I am not going to “win” this race, but for me just finishing the triathlon is going to be the best feeling. Of course, if I’m being honest, I’d really like to not finish last! I know I am not technically going to be “competing”, just competing against myself to push beyond my own limits.

I will follow-up soon with a post describing some of the training…specifically swimming in open water (i.e. ocean!). That was a challenge, and no, not because I was worried about sharks! More on that later.

Until next time, here’s to pushing yourself, trying something out of your comfort zone, and silicone, which is apparently pretty resilient! :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Quest for Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders

This is one of my shorter posts, but I wanted to share my experience!

In order to give my new gals the best support possible, about two weeks after my revision surgery I went to buy some new over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Previous to my mastectomy all of my bras had underwire. Following my mastectomy up until my revision surgery I had the hardest time finding bras. That was for a couple of reasons. Following these surgeries my plastic surgeon told me I can’t wear underwire for at least 6 months following my last surgery. Also, I was totally uneven and both sides were not the same size. Because of this, I was not able to just go grab any old cup size. A bra with cups would not fit correctly because one breast was high, one was low, one was longer, one was rounder. So I had bras that were triangle shaped, like Hanes, and because I still had a decent amount on top, they had to be XL “triangle” bras. They probably didn’t really offer the best support possible, but I didn’t exactly have a whole lot of options because sports bras didn’t exactly fit either.

Needless to say, I was extremely excited to be able to finally go shopping for new bras, since I actually had two breasts that were pretty much the same size and mostly even. However, I didn’t know what my actual bra size was anymore. I knew walking into the bra store the first thing I was going to need to do was get sized. So, I found a girl dressed in black with a pink tape measure and asked if I could get measured. She gave me my new measurements, which were not exact. You know, where they say you could either wear this cup with that band size, or this band size with that cup. I really started confusing the poor girl when I started asking some questions to clarify which size would be better for me. When I asked her a couple questions, she asked me what size bra I was wearing right then. I told her I wasn’t exactly wearing a “real” size, that it was just a “triangle” shaped bra. A bit bewildered, she then said, “Ok, so what size bra do you normally wear?” I knew that this was probably going to happen, but it was still a bit awkward to try to figure out the best way to explain to her why I had no idea what size my breasts were. And let’s just say that’s unusual for me – I haven’t so far had too hard of a time sharing my journey with others. So, I told her, as uncomplicated as I could, that my problem was I had had a double mastectomy with reconstruction and so I honestly had no clue what my size was. And that was also why it didn’t matter what size bra I used to wear because they were totally different now. She was pretty young and I think she either had no idea what I was trying to explain or was just really unsure of how to act after I shared that information with her. She pointed me in the direction of the couple types of wireless bras they carried and I told her I was good and thanked her for her help. Poor girl! Bet she didn’t think about having a customer like me when she started her job! Who would have thought it would be so complicated to buy a plain old bra? Anyway, overall, I was just happy to finally be able to wear a real bra with an actual size that fit both breasts! Just like so many other times along my BRCA journey, small wins make me feel very victorious! :)

I am 4 months post-revision surgery. Things are going great! In my previous post I mentioned that the lefty scar had already moved about a centimeter. I have not noticed any extra movement since then! I also have not noticed any movement from righty! It is such a relief, considering after the mastectomy and the exchange, I had falling, wandering implants pretty much right after each surgery was completed. Needless to say, I am extremely happy! It’s looking like I may actually be done with my surgeries for awhile! Yay!!

Until next time, here's to symmetry, comfortable bras and moving forward! :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Life Moving Forward: A Year Later

Today (April 23, 2011) is my year anniversary from having my prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction. It is the day I took charge of my own future by removing healthy breast tissue before cancer could slither its sneaky, over-replicating cells into my mutated tissues. I do not regret my decision. Has it been the easiest year? No. Three surgeries in less than a year is a lot to put your body through, not to mention your emotional and psychological well-being. I have had my ups and downs this past year – as my blog clearly reflects. I had my worries prior to surgery. I wrote letters to my boys, just in case (that was not easy!). I had pain and fear directly following my surgeries, especially the mastectomy. I even had “boob envy” when I had the expanders in and they were so uneven I couldn’t even wear a regular old t-shirt! However, I also have had immense relief. I don’t worry anymore if today is the day I am going to find a lump or worry that I missing “IT” because I just don’t know how to perform a self-exam correctly. I have had little wins, like being able to brush my own hair again, or get a shower on my own. Or get stitches out and drains removed. I’ve had emotional wins (see One Sweet Day), when I didn’t tear up or feel sad when I heard the song “One Sweet Day” which was previously enveloped in heartbreaking emotions for me. I have tremendous gratitude to my husband, family and friends for the support and love they have given me selflessly and continuously.

And now, 1 year later, I am almost 7 weeks post revision surgery. “The girls” have better placement overall and look natural. But gravity is starting to claw at these implants too, as my plastic surgeon (PS) said would happen. The scar underneath lefty is already almost a centimeter from its starting position. That worries me, but I am trying to keep optimistic! I don’t have that constant tightness that comes along for the ride after each surgery to constantly remind me that I am not “normal.” My PS had given me the a-okay to start jogging, lifting, etc a bit ago – so the exercising has resumed. I am able to look back on this past year and smile. I made a choice, granted the choices I had to choose from were crappy, but that cannot be changed. I still feel today, like I chose the right path for me and my family. I am relieved to not have to worry about when I am going to get breast cancer. I never actually felt like it was an if I get cancer. I always felt like I was just waiting around to find it. (I do still have a small risk because some cells were left behind the nipples and probably a few sneaky cells here and there, but overall, compared to ~87%, it’s well worth the reduced risk!). I am not saying all is perfect and hunky-dory. I still have emotional ups and downs. But I don’t question my decision nor do I wish I hadn’t had the surgeries.

Last April, before my mastectomy surgery, I posted a poem I had written in a college poetry class. What if, was about what my Mother went through, but as if it was me having to go through it. When I took that class (now I am thankful it was an elective I was able to choose!) it was about 2 ½ years from my Mother’s death and I still hadn’t really worked through my grief. That class was extremely helpful to me to get my pain out in words, just as this blog has been. I wanted to share another one of those poems today. Fair warning – it’s not a happy, smiley poem. It makes me sad to think about how broken my heart was to be able to write such a dark, grief-stricken poem. I am still not 100%, because how can you ever go back to a full heart when you lose your Mother. But I am in a much better place now and have been given the opportunity to not have to go through what my Mother did or put my family through the heartbreak and loss that I have.


A gray haze covers me like a blanket,
padding my round shoulders
as if preparing me for an intense impact.
I am alone.
I am encased in solid blackness.

Each step my foot hammers to the ground
is as loud as a whisper;
a whisper like the soft whimpering of my heart.
The struggle is hilly like the mouth of a crimping iron.
Following every battle my mother wins, there is another

gnawing at the shins of the one just defeated.
The chemotherapies weakening every ounce of her strength
as the cancer devours the length of her body.
At times the heavy haze will release me,
even as the cancer still hides amongst her healthy cells.

But the grayness always comes back
to seize me and pull me to my deepest sadness.
I keep pushing myself because there must
be a brighter side,
a side brighter than this cold twisting tunnel of

emptiness I slide slowly through.

And yet…
A flash of hope!
I run toward this light of hope,
my feet suddenly clouds of dust.
The closer I get, the dimmer the light,

and then it is gone…
gone like a mirage of water
in the desert summer,
the relief has vanished.

“The cancer has spread to your lungs,” the doctor tells us
as the room begins spinning, everything blurry around me.
“I am afraid there is nothing else we can do.”
These horrible words crash down on me

like a hammer to a nail.
But I am stubborn and optimistic.
Words in my ears ringing over and over,
“She may not live much longer.”

The machine assists her breathing now,
her lungs are filling each second with
killer cancerous cells.
“I love you, Mom,” I softly whisper in her ear as she lies in bed.
She squeezes my hand in return,

too weak to speak those three powerful words
that I am longing to hear one last time.
I lay next to her watching her chest for movement,
the split second for it to expand upwards lasts a lifetime.
Relief floods me, as I sigh deeply thankful for another second with
my Mother, my role model, my best friend.

“It’s okay to let go now, you have fought so hard, so long.”
These powerful words flow full of fear and love to my mother’s ear.
“We know you don’t want to leave us, but you don’t have to suffer any more.”
Surprised at myself for saying something I had been denying, my throat
swells up, lip quivering, entire body trembling.

Knees bounce to the cold black concrete,
tears wildly race down my cheeks,
down my face,

and pounce fiercely at the ground.
Reality smacks me in the face
as I see her chest move with the breath of life
one last time,
one last breath.

I am engulfed in silence.

I kiss her cheek as the warmth of her body
escapes, like steam from a volcano.
I crawl, dragging myself across the sharp blades of

I feel truly blessed to have been given a choice, an opportunity that my Mom wasn’t offered. Obviously, her struggles, fights, and death have had an everlasting scar on my heart. It is something that molded who I am today and maybe it is what gave me the courage and strength to say, “YES! I choose to fight! I will not let this BRCA mutation destroy another generation of my family.” Life is moving forward with new hope and optimism.

Until next time, here is to my Mother’s strength, informed decisions, and hope. :)