Note: You will want to mute the music below prior to watching the videos.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BRCA Positive: Blessed or Cursed?

Being positive for the BRCA 1 mutation is something that often weighs heavily on me.  I was tested after I was diagnosed....although I had considered being tested prior.  Had I been informed and truly known what it meant to be positive for this mutation, I would have never waited. With my family history, there should have been no doubt on my part and overwhelming encouragement from my doctor's to do so.  Could I have beat breast cancer before it even got the chance to start running?  This is a question that I will never be able to answer.  However, now I know.  I know 'Why' I got breast cancer at age 28.  Now I find myself wondering 'If' my girls have inherited this same mutation.  If the answer is yes, then comes the next question: 'When' will cancer attack them?  How much time do they have?  My great-grandmother was 45, my mom was 35, and I was 28.  My oldest daughter is 6 years old.  The thought of her ever being diagnosed with breast cancer is hard enough.  The thought of her being diagnosed at an age younger than 28, is gut-wrenching.  If I'm not careful, these thoughts can consume my sanity.  So, the real question is how I choose to live with this.
Am I Blessed or am I Cursed?

Although I could have both of my girls tested at anytime, I have chosen to not do so.  When it comes to getting tested for the BRCA genetic mutation, I think all women need to ask themselves what they plan to do with the information they receive.  What is my plan should I test positive?  I know every woman will process things differently and I know not every woman will make the choice to be proactive.  In addition, not every woman who test positive will be diagnosed with cancer.  But, you should know your risk and I have included a chart that you can find at Myriad .  Is it a risk you are willing to take?

Your Cancer Risks

Here is another chart that clearly displays what it means when a woman knows her risks and takes control.

Proactive Cancer Management Reduces the RisksProactive Cancer Management Reduces the Risks

As you can see, if you are a carrier for the mutation, you have up to an 87% chance of one day getting breast cancer by age 70.  Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what age breast cancer might decide to sneak into our lives.  I was 28....42 years away from age 70.  Had I been tested before cancer, and been proactive in taking the necessary steps, it would have reduced my odds by more than 90% of ever having to hear those words. Of ever having to wonder if I would get to see my daughter go to Kindergarten. Of ever having to wonder if I would be able to have more children.  Although I am a survivor and I credit God for His healing power, I wish I had been tested earlier.  My prayer is that my daughter's will NEVER have to face breast cancer should they test positive.  My prayer is that they will feel empowered to make decisions that I wish I had made.  I have something valuable....I have something that breast cancer can't take away....and that is the 'Why.'  Luckily, because of the 'Why' my daughter's may never have to face the 'When'.

So........Blessed or Cursed?  Definitely Blessed.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Long Time...No Blog.

Holy Cannoli!  I cannot believe it has been over a year since my last post.  Getting use to having a new little person in the house is not an easy task.  Our lives have been abundantly blessed with Chandler Mae.  But, they have also become more a good way of course.  =)  I will have you know that despite my lack of keeping up with my blog the past year, I have checked it regularly and am blessed beyond words by the number of people who continue to read my blog and leave me words of encouragement.  My purpose has always been to give other women...especially young women....a message of hope when facing breast cancer.  For the first few years after my diagnosis I was very active in several breast cancer organizations and really bringing awareness to genetic breast cancer. we all happens and sometimes we have to look at our lives and really figure out what our role is during this particular season.  For me...right now I feel that the most important thing I could possibly be investing all my time into is my two girls....Charley and Chandler.  I have been given a second chance at life....therefore, I will honor God by taking care of the gifts He has blessed me with.  With that being said....I love that my blog is still reaching so many women...and hopefully blessing them.

On a different are a few things that are going on in my life:

1.  First and foremost....I celebrated 4 years of being cancer free on July 16th.  Woo Hoo!  It really is hard to believe that it has been four years.  Sometimes...cancer seems like a dream.  Of course, that is until I look in the mirror and am reminded that it was SO REAL.

2.  In October of 2011 I had a complete hysterectomy....meaning that they took my ovaries, cervix, and uterus.  I knew that I was done having children, and since I am BRCA 1 positive I also knew that I had an increased risk of ovarian cancer.  NO THANK  YOU!  I can't say that I miss my parts....or my periods...but I do miss being able to lose weight and get through the day without having a complete sweat attack...AKA Hot Flash.  All in all though...I really can't complain and I NEVER have to worry about ovarian cancer.

3.  My oldest daughter, Charley, started Kindergarten this fall.  What an incredible blessing it was to be able to witness this.  When I was diagnosed, Charley was just two weeks shy of her second birthday.  Thinking about her going to Kindergarten seemed so far away and I have to admit that I questioned whether or not I would be here.  WELL GUESS WHAT CANCER.....I WON!  Charley is such a vibrant little girl who LOVES to sing, dance, act, shop....pretty much anything.  She is an INCREDIBLE big sister.  Being an only child I never knew what it was like to have a seeing the love that Charley and Chandler have for each other warms my heart to no end.  (I am sure that when Charley is 16 and Chandler is 10...this statement may need to be edited...but I will enjoy this sisterly love for as long as I can!)

4.  Chandler turned one on August 27th this year.  If I could use one word to sum up Chandler it would have to be BUSY.  That girl can go and go and go and go.....and then go some more.  She is finally walking..which translates to climbing on, into, up, down, around...anything she can.  Some of her favorite things to do are:  pull books off of Charley's book in around 50 of them, eat, pull off her shoes and socks, eat, feed the dogs from her high chair anytime that she is eating, climb into a plastic drum that is supposed to hold her musical instruments, eat, take baths, be outside...did I mention that she likes to eat?  You would think that I could lose some weight since I can't eat when she is awake.  If I am eating...she is eating...or yelling for whatever I am eating...and this is of course after she has been fed.  She is a fire cracker.  I have discovered that she LOVES Barney and for me to read her books.  This is of course after she eats.

5.  My husband, Ryan, runs a very successful business...Anvil Customs.  The business continues to grow...which is a wonderful thing.  Anvil Customs has allowed me to stay at home for the past 6 years.  He also works from home so we are incredibly blessed to be able to raise our girls together and have an abundant amount of family time.  Ryan is an incredible man of God and has stuck by me in the toughest of times.  He is also a wonderful father.  I would like to give him full credit for the rowdiness of our two girls as well as blessing our girls with his humor.  Both Charley and Chandler are comedians...and they know it...kind of like their daddy.

6.  As for me...I am just going through life focusing on one day at a time.  I am working on being the best mother and wife that I can possibly be....knowing that is what God wants from me during this time of life.  I am working on losing a few pounds...okay...several pounds.  I am hoping to get into the best shape of my life.  Getting old isn't going to get any easier and I know that I won't be able to put forth my best effort if I'm not healthy.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve and am grateful for all that God is doing in my life, the life of my girls, and in Ryan's life.  I LOVE MY FAMILY SO MUCH!!

I hope to keep my blog a little more updated....and I will keep praying that it will bless others.  I realize that everyday women are hearing the words "You have breast cancer."  In that feel completely helpless.  You feel completely deflated.  You know that your life is about to change....forever.  However, it is also in that moment that you can choose how you want to face this challenge.  I would suggest putting on your armor and going into battle knowing that you are going to KILL CANCER.