PREVIVOR: A person who is not diagnosed with cancer, but has survived the predisposition, or higher risk, of cancer due to a genetic mutation and/or strong family history. After being armed with this information, a previvor can make informed choices prior to a cancer diagnosis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

So it has come to my attentiom that there is some confusion about my upcoming surgery and why I am having it. Let me start by saying that I am completely open to answer anyone's questions about why I am doing this and what is going to happen. But I will not tolerate being judged for it. I have entirely too much on my mind to worry about people's remarks and criticisms. That being said, let me list some FAQ's (if you will) of this surgery and the reasoning behind it:

Q- Do you have cancer?
A- No, I have not been diagnosed with breast cancer. What I have been diagnosed with, is a genetic mutation that elevates your RISK for breast cancer. I also have several other factors that also elevate your risk for breast cancer. My biological mother has breast cancer, and possibly the BRCA gene mutation as well. I may or may not have other biological family members with breast cancer...I am adopted so my family medical history is a little shaky at best. I also have had two core biopsies come back with "atypia" This is basically "pre-cancer." Having a biopsy result like this, only elevates your risk for developing it later.

Q- Why not get tested for BRCA before you have the surgery?
A- The BRCA gene is a gene that elevates your risk for breast cancer to 87% (It also elevates the ovarian cancer risk, but the percentage escapes me). Not only does the risk get elevated, there is also a 40% risk of reoccurance. I am aware that my biological mother has a genetic condition....whether it is Cowden's syndrome (which I've been diagnosted with) or BRCA I do not know. Since Cowden's syndrome is a major risk factor, the doctor has told me not to worry about getting tested for BRCA right now. He said I have enough on my plate without worrying about this. I always have the option for getting tested later.

Q-You're so young, there's no need to rush into anything. Why not wait a while?
A- Trust me, I am not rushing into ANYTHING. This is a decision that I've taken a year to make. I've had not one,not two, not three but FOUR doctors tell me that this is the right thing to do. As far as waiting awhile, let me answer that with a question. Someone gives you a gun and tells you to start playing Russian Roulette. You've managed to get through so far without the gun going off, but you know that the bullet is in there somewhere and sooner or later you'll be shot. Will you die? Who knows. That's part of the game. Now someone has offered to take the gun away before you get shot. Do you give the gun to them, or do you wait awhile and keep playing?

Q- What's the difference between a mastectomy and a breast augmentation or "boob job?"
A- A breast augmentation is either enhancing or reducing what's already there. You keep your nipples, your skin, your milk ducts, your cells, etc etc. A mastectomy removes EVERYTHING. This is not plastic surgery so I'll have a better self image. This is a life or death situation. This is me, trying to save my life.

Q-You seem so nonchalant about it. I've heard you make jokes. Obviously you don't take this seriously, do you?
A- Yes, I've been known from time to time to crack jokes about what's happening. I'll say things like "I'm going boob shopping" when I go to a PS appointment, or "I'm chopping my girls off" when telling someone about my surgery. Humor is my coping mechanism. Always has been, always will be. Truth of the matter is, I take this VERY seriously.  There isn't a night that goes by that I don't think about this before I drift off to sleep. There isn't a day that goes by when the realization of what I'm doing hits me unexpectandly. But guess what? I've been dealt a very crappy hand. But I'm dealing with it. You go through this and let's see how you react.

That seems to be all I can think of for now. Like I said, if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I'm an open book. I do tend to put myself out there and some people don't understand that. But that's who I am, and at this point in my life I'm not going to change. For better or for worse, this is me. Take ir or leave it =)


PS Fingers crossed that class is cancelled tomorrow because of the SNOW! =)


  1. Wow!!! How brave you are. This could not have been an easy decision to make, but you are an exceptional lady. Just know that we all will be praying for you and a speedy recovery. We will miss you and your beautiful smiles. OH, and that laughter too. Please let me know if I can do anything to help you. ( No studying PLEASE ) Peggy

  2. Good for you! If anyone reads this blog and doesn't see that this has been a serious decision and that you have given it your full consideration before jumping in, then forget them, they'll never get it anyways.

    But you're absolutely rightl when the risks outweigh the benefits you chop the girls off and get a less cancer-prone pair! Good luck xoxo

  3. Man I can relate to you so much! Michelle, I went through the same things with people and continue to go through it on a daily basis. Most of these people are miserable old ladies that I work with and have to see 5 days a week , 8 hours a day. What makes me sick is some of these people that talk behind my back, congratulate me to my face. They talk shit about my you tube videos saying I am just flaunting myself around just disgusts me and hurts a lot, I have never been one to stand up for myself so I pretend I don't know what people are really saying. and for those people most explaining to them doesn't even help most just don't understand everything and like to make their own assumptions. SOmetimes I wanna just shout out to go #$%#%^# yourselves but I have to deal with these people every day unless I find a new job which I don't want to do. there really are some messed up people in this world, makes me so sick sometimes. wow ....yeah sorry to vent like that but again I totally feel ya! And totally get the sense of humor thing as well. that is me too! the sense of humor, blogs and vlogs are what keeps me going. and some people just want to take that away