yesterday I completed another big, very scary step in my breast health journey. As you know last November I had my first mammogram (which was clear) and this past July I had a chest MRI to get a baseline reading of my breast tissue, glands, ducts, etc... Well, there's something I didn't communicate to you afterwards. I just kept talking fashion because it was easier. I think sometimes when we say things out loud or write them down it makes it sooo much more real, and I was too chicken to tell you that two weeks after I got my MRI I received a call saying the radiologists saw some "glandular abnormalities" in my scan and they wanted to schedule another MRI follow-up in 6 months. My heart literally fell out of my butt-hole. The nurse said it could be as simple as a "bad read", something that is just naturally part of my body..."like a freckle", or it could be the early signs of something else. What the hell does that even mean; "something else?" By definition the word else means "other or in addition" and I highly doubt the second MRI was going to locate the addition of a third nipple. So basically in this case, else meant other...else meant not good.
Shortly after this phone call I went in to see my doctor to get my yearly physical but also discuss the MRI results and how to proceed. In an abundance of caution, and especially in light of the recent MRI results, we decided to go ahead and do the BRCA tests. So I sat there watching this nurse take the tiniest vial of blood, amazed at how that little thing could determine whether or not a gene for breast cancer existed in my body. Mind Blown. Surreal. I was kinda numb. And then they told me that it would take about 2-3 weeks to actually run the tests, so the doctor wouldn't see me back for another month to go over the results. A month. That's a long ass time to wait for any type of result, especially this kind. I've been hypothetically holding my breath every day since that blood draw, similar to when I used to hold my breath while driving past a cemetery so the evil spirits wouldn't possess my soul. I hyper-evaluated every future event (Halloween, my best friends wedding, Christmas)...wondering if my life would be different then or not.
In the meantime while we waited for the results, I thought about our options (whether positive or negative), and I felt a great comfort knowing that regardless of the outcome I would have control. I joked that if the test was positive it was Gods way of having insurance pay for the boob job I had always wanted. But all joking aside, a choice was a gift, it was something my mother never had. She never had control of her illness. She never had options; her option was always determined by the cancer or doctor. Her options were always and only to fight...to survive...to breathe...to have faith...to try another chemo...to have another surgery...to let God take control. And I thank God for putting people on this Earth who are smart enough to create the medicine and tests that continue to give all of us a fighting chance. In fact, yesterday morning on my way to the appointment I turned off the radio and prayed, which I don't usually do because I like my tunes. But I prayed Philippians 4: 6 - 7; "Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus." So I prayed that Gods will be done, but most importantly I thanked him for the doctors & the medicine that are allowing me the ability to be proactive; the ability to do something I know my mother always wished she could have done.
The test, both BRCA 1 and 2 were/are negative for me. I have zero genetic markings or detected mutations. I am breathing again. I am silly for worrying. I am relieved. I am over-dramatic. But most of all I am still not immune.
So here are my thoughts! I think it's very important that I let you know that being BRCA 1 and/or 2 positive is not a death sentence. It does not mean you will definitely get breast and/or ovarian cancer. And yes because I am BRCA negative does not mean I will never get cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute "only 55 to 65 percent of women who inherit the BRCA 1 mutation and around 45 percent of women who inherit the BRCA 2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70." This means that ~50+% of women with a positive BRCA result still live a normal life without breast cancer. On the flip side, about 12% of women in the general population will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This could be hormonal, environmental, etc... And because of this fact we are still going to do the follow-up MRI in December to make sure that the "abnormalities" they saw are in fact normal to my body and not something "else." Again...I am not immune...just not a "carrier."
So friends, regardless of any tests, family history, etc..., please take care of yourself, do your monthly exams, and get yearly physicals/check-ups. Know your breasts, know your body, because you are "fearfully & wonderfully made" and you want to protect that.
Knowledge is power lovies!
P.S. My positivity comes in light of the fact that my tests were negative. I have the self-realization to know that if my tests were positive I would be having an over-dramatic melt-down on the couch, drinking margaritas and scheduling a double-mastectomy/reconstruction tomorrow. I'd be in full-on panic mode because that's how I am; I over-react. I expect & think the worst. On one hand I wouldn't be having a pity-party because I would want all of you to think I'm soooo strong, but on the other hand I would definitely want your sympathy (poor me & my genetically defective boobs) because I love the attention. So yeah, I know what some of you might have been thinking while reading this and I agree. And if you are BRCA positive and are annoyed by my relief...I'm sorry and I get it. I get it because every October when they have all those commercials about survivors I get bitter; like "oh yeah, well you want a cookie for living" bitter. So I feel you, and I hope you don't feel that way about me or P&P. BUT if you do, well...this is my blog, and these are my thoughts, and this is my place to be honest, vulnerable & thankful. If you don't like it...as always...you can kick rocks to the next blog. XOXO
P.S.S. Thank you soooooo much to those of you that texted & emailed me yesterday morning. Your love & prayers were beyond appreciated and felt! I love you!
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Labels: Breast Health, family, lifestyle, thoughts for Thursday