Monday, March 29, 2010

A Little Background

I apologize for this being so long, just wanted to start off giving anyone reading some background info to understand where I’m coming from. I’ve never done a blog before, but decided to start this one after my husband and sister provided words of encouragement. Maybe sharing my feelings about my BRCA journey will be healing for me and hopefully beneficial to others in my shoes. Perhaps it will be encouraging for others to know they are not alone on the emotional roller coaster that accompanies being BRCA positive. And perhaps others will find comfort knowing that there are others who understand the intense pain from losing someone you loved so dearly.

This is my first blog and my first posting. As I have stated in my “About Me” section, I am 30 years old and a BRCA1 mutation carrier. I am a wife and a mother of two boys (5 and 3). I lost my mother to ovarian cancer when I was just 18. My mother was 13 when her mother lost her battle to breast cancer. My grandmother was 3, when her mother lost her fight with “stomach” cancer. I have choices these amazing women didn't, and I choose to do everything in my power to spend a long life with my wonderful husband, and to see my boys get married and have kids. I choose to FIGHT! BRCA be DAMNED!

I am the baby of three girls; two of us are BRCA1 positive and one negative. My mother was 38ish when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and 45 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She lost her battle to ovarian cancer when she was only 49. One of her sisters also lost her battle to ovarian cancer in her early fifties. Their mother had breast cancer at age 42 and died a few years later from the disease. My great-grandmother had “stomach” cancer, but the doctors now say it was likely ovarian cancer. Needless to say my family history of breast and ovarian cancer is very strong. I’m pretty sure nurses and doctors are a bit surprised when they ask what they think is a simple question; “Do you have any history of cancer in your family?”.

My mother’s doctors always told her there was a strong chance two of the three of us girls had a mutation…unfortunately they were correct on that stat. Deep down, I always had a feeling that I was going to test positive for a mutation. I was only 18 when we lost my mother. Several months after her death, I went to my new OBGYN and she suggested I get genetically tested. At that time it was so soon after losing my mom that all that I could think was, “Why would I want a test that is just going to tell me I’m going to die?”. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but from the time I was 14 years old, I had watched my mom suffer through chemo after chemo, surgery after surgery, and really did not want to be told that was my fate too. I waited until I knew I was done having children to get tested. Both of my sisters had already been tested, one positive, and one negative. I was 28 when I got my BRCA1 positive results and although I kinda figured, it still sucked. Along with the positive result went the slight shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have the same fate as my mom.

So, that brings us to today. I just turned 30 and my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction is scheduled for April 23, 2010. Deep down I always knew I would have the preventative surgeries, but I gave myself time to let all the information about being BRCA1 positive sink in. Right after I found out about the mutation I did lots of reading and research. However, I allowed myself to get caught up in work and family. Finally, last summer, I came to a conclusion about what I needed to do and when. I scheduled new appointments with a genetic counselor, breast surgeon and plastic surgeons and went to a young breast cancer survivor meeting. After many conversations (too many to count actually) with my husband, and notifying those close to me, I am less than four weeks away from my surgery date. I know I am making the right choice for me and my family.

9 comments:

  1. Hi there - I found you through Steph's blog today - welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. Sounds like you have a plan of action and are feeling confident with your choices. Good for you.

    Teri

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  2. I love you tons of bricks! I know that you will help countless others that also have to make this tough decision. You are a strong and beautiful person, and I know that Mom would be so proud of you wanting to help others! You are making the right choice! Take it one day at a time!!

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  3. Hi Tracy! I am one of Kelly's friends and was asked to read your blog. You are such a strong person for sharing your journey and making the effort to help others in the same situation. My great grandmother died of breast cancer and I just lost a uncle to the same, it is hard to see family battle this with the possiabilty that I might become postive for this in the future. I'll pray for you and I hope you the best.

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  4. Hi Traci, I know I have you on facebook but Im not sure how much we've talked (if any at all). I got a rush of Kaminski family friend requests and kind of got overwhelmed w/ who is who. I appreciate your blog. I've thought about the cancer plague in our family since I was a teenager. My husband (who is a major worrier)has become very fearful and overly in tune to my medical complaints. I'm 30 and cannot imagine going through what you're going through. You sound like a fighter, which is awesome. NOt sure I could be that strong. Thanks again for sharing.
    Megan (Worby) Kuhn

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  5. Traci-
    I am also BRCA 1+ and worked with your sister many years ago! I had a prophylactic mastectomy and hysterectomy in November 2009. Please let me know if you have any questions or just want to talk. Have you checked out the bright pink website? Best to you- you are a strong woman making the right decision!

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  6. I love you with all my heart! I hope you know how much I admire you as a mother and as a woman. You're an inspiration and one of my biggest heros. I pray I can be half the mother you are. Im here for you every step of the way!! I love you -your lil sister-

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  7. Thank you all for the wonderful support and love! I really appreciate the comments and votes of confidence! Best to all!

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  8. I think sharing your experience here will help make a terrible choice easier for many women, Tracy. We're thinking of you, darling.

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  9. Kirstin (Engelhardt) MorenoApril 1, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Tracy,
    I just saw your link to this blog on Facebook. I just wanted to say that I'll be reading and praying for you. I hope the surgery goes smoothly. And I'm glad there are some things you can do to be more proactive about all this.

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