Speaking of sharing stories…
In October 2011, at the age of 40, I had my first mammogram, which came back abnormal. In today’s environment of defensive medicine, this is not always a signal for worry, but to be on the safe side they performed an ultrasound. It was not good. The radiologist called me back into her office to review the films and show me the areas she found troubling. Many of you reading this have been there.
By the end of the week I was in a breast surgeon’s office discussing my options. I would need an MRI and multiple biopsies. I buckled down for the ride.
That very same week, my sister in San Francisco had her yearly mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 47. Our father had been diagnosed in his mid 50’s, so now I had two first-degree relatives, and my lifetime chance of having breast cancer just jumped from about 50% to 87% in one week. And I had suspicious spots. Plural. To quote my oncologist, I was a ticking time bomb.
My life became a series of visits to doctors’ offices, genetic testing and rounds of expensive tests including MRI’s, biopsies, ultrasounds, etc. One biopsy required me to hold myself in an upside-down Twister pose for 45 minutes while nine samples were drawn. Not fun. But the tests always came back normal.
Fast forward three years, and I was once again sitting in the radiologist’s office looking at new spots on my films. That was the day I knew I was going to seek preventive treatment and that surgery would be the path I would choose. I had watched the devastating effects on my sister as she went through chemotherapy and radiation, and I knew I didn’t want to go through that. So I chose to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy in December 2013. Four surgeries later and cancer-free, I am one of the lucky ones. And ready to walk alongside other women on the same road.