I’m not sure I would have said this a year ago, but I’m glad it was me.
Could I have been strong enough if it were my sister, or my mother? I’m glad I found that lump early and having removed all breast tissue, my run-in with hereditary breast cancer will be put to rest shortly after this 2014 year ends.
However, I would be naive to believe that what is to come soon after this will be a path lined with roses. You see, my family history prompted a genetic test, and that is how we found my BRCA 1+ status. Because of that telling lump, we found out that my Mother too shares this genetic mutation.
We’ve all heard that history repeats itself. I’m grateful this won’t be the case this time around. Breast cancer will not take my Mother away from me, the way she lost her own almost 38 years ago. Soon after my chemotherapy wraps up, Mom will have her prophylactic double mastectomy. It was a difficult decision to make, but after seeing what cancer has done to her mother and now her daughter… what are the alternatives? Doctors told her she could subject herself to biannual MRI’s and Mammograpy. Trouble is that every exposure to radiation creates a risk of kicking that BRCA gene into action.
The What Ifs are just too great here. What if by the time she were to find cancer, it would be too far gone? What if at her age she couldn’t handle the chemotherapy as well? Why go through chemo at all if she doesn’t have to? What if she were lucky enough to fall in that narrow margin of BRCA+ people who don’t ever develop cancer? What if?
And while we’re asking questions, how will I watch my Mom go through this while my scars are still so new? I am afraid of facing again what my body and brain have barely begun to process. So much had been numbed out in the post surgical narcotic haze that kept me from feeling too much. I kept looking forward and marching on, and now when I look forward, I see this same surgery… and I’m terrified all over again.
My decisions for surgery were weighted heavily by my desire to be around to raise my young son, among other reasons. I am grateful that Mom is taking a proactive choice too, and while her child rearing days are over, her children and grandchildren need her around for a long time to come. In both situations, hers and mine, these breasts are given in sacrifice, and in return we are hoping to increase our days on this earth. We can only hope…
I will be there for you Mom, just as you have been there for me through all of this. Remember when I came to you 9 weeks post-op and told you that I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my body again? You will get there too. And when our scars have healed enough, we will go get some awesome looking nipple tattoos together. (or maybe some other cool tattoos to commemorate our sacrifices and our fight to carry on in spite of it all!) Everyday we’ll heal just a little more…