Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Brave Decisions

Since learning that I have a BRCA1 mutation, all three of my sisters have also been tested to learn their BRCA status. I don't know if it's good news or bad news that only one of my sisters came back positive for BRCA1, too. Sister Number Three, the youngest at 28, has inherited the same increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer as I.

It's a miserable situation for anyone to be in. But my heart breaks in a more delicate way for her. Like tiny bits of fine crystal that sing the moment they shatter and scatter. She, who is in a happy relationship but unmarried, who wants very much to have children of her own, and has slogged through some challenging personal matters over the past several years, is now facing a potential -- but not forgone -- breast cancer diagnosis. And she's closing in on my age at diagnosis.

She's now in the position of having to make some of the toughest decisions of her life in order to maybe save her life. Stay aggressively vigilant? Undergo prophylactic mastectomy? Reconstruction? What kind? What about her ovaries? Do they stay or go? What will she look like after surgery? How will she feel about her new body if she undergoes surgery? How will this affect her relationship? Bilateral mastectomy means no breastfeeding should she have children. That's a joy she'll never know. A miss. Lots of missing things.

The good news is that the chick is rather resourceful. She quickly found Bright Pink, an organization that provides support to young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. They have been a phenomenal resource for her as she navigates this new and difficult path.

And she has made a decision. She will undergo bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. It took my breath away when she told me. The enormity and finality of the decision... and she just stepped up and claimed it. Courageous, is the only word I can think of to describe her.


Anonymous said...

Tracy -
My sister in law did this - plus she had her ovaries removed as she is blessed with the genes for cancer of all things female. Please let me know if your sister would like to talk to her. (Although she had the masectomy and the ovaries removed after she had two kids).
I am thinking of you on a daily basis.
Susan (Sue615)
email - aschhlevine at aol

Sarah said...

That sister chick of yours is not only resourceful and brave, but is the first person to back you up and cheer you on, no matter who you are or what you're doing.

This is the time where everybody she's ever done that for needs to repay that debt of gratitude.

It's gonna be a long list.

Anonymous said...

Tracy, your sister has made a brave decision and although she doesn't know me, she has my support.


Anonymous said...

I think you and Sister #3 share a lot more than the BRCA gene. Whether it's Nature or Nurture, you both "got grit". What amazing women you have become!

Anonymous said...

What a strong, strong family! You are a great inspiration for them and for me!


Anonymous said...

They're right. You've both got grit.


Kelley said...

I was thinking the same thing. Grit. Keeping both of you girls in my thoughts as you continue to pursue NED. Thanks for inspiring me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy, It'Grandma.....Surprise! I dood it.Yea, but got confused the first time I clicked to comment. hey wanted my name address etc. Was happy you had someone else day. Also read through the balance of your blog. aJamie must be a very strong person. I don't think I could have come up with my decision that quick. but she knew wwhat to do search the web-site good for her. you have to give her credit. now that lori showed me again about the comment//I'write again soon. also finally I was able to get on the blog by myself

Anonymous said...

"What will she look like after surgery?"

Beautiful, in every way. Nothing could ever change that.