Lets talk about Cancer…

Cancer.

We hear about it all the time now, more now than we did 15 years ago. There are so many people raising money for cancer related foundations and research to find a cure. I was part of Relay for Life for many years in the past, helping to raise money. Its so good to know there are people who are actively fundraising for a good cause.

If you know anyone close to your heart that had cancer and didn’t make it, take a minute to remember the person they were and the legacy they left behind. If you know anyone who had cancer and survived, celebrate their victory and really acknowledge how strong they are to go through all the pain and actually have a chance to say that they did not give up on the fight they had with themselves.

So why am I talking about cancer?

Well… my grandmother had ovarian cancer, she is still alive and is cancer free. My mother had breast cancer, survived and also cancer free. I have amazing strong women in my family that fought for their lives to survive and not leave their kids behind. I am beyond blessed to still have these two women in my life. I am the oldest sister with two younger brother (21 and 8 years of age) and also the oldest grandchild on my maternal family side.

I remember I was off on a school trip my senior year in high school when my mom called me and told me the news that my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was in the hotel that evening and literally cried all night, one of my best friends, who was my roommate that night, prepared a warm bath for me to try to calm down. (Bless her heart.) Now my grandmother is not old, she was fairly young when this happened. It was a very sad time. We saw her get very skinny and sick, she started losing her hair and wore head pieces everywhere she went to hide it. It definitely brought the family together. She did everything she had to do to survive and, thanks to the Lord, she did.

Now, fast forward to my sophomore year in college, five years ago. My mom started to not feel very well. She knew something was not right. After going to her primary doctor that told her that all her test results were normal, she would go to get a second opinion from another doctor. They did all the necessary tests and the results were not so “normal.” At this point I was taking 18 units, a full load of courses for the semester. But I was commuting to and from school so I got to see my family every day. I got home from school one day, my grandmother was at the house… my mom got a call from the hospital about her test results… and they are positive for breast cancer. Shocked. How could this happen to my own mother? The one who takes extra good care of her health? Why? I didn’t understand. My heart sank. I ran to my room and cried in my pillow. What am I going to do? Is she going to make it? All this was going through my head at that moment. I don’t want to lose my mom…I’m only 19… My brother is 17… My baby brother is only 4… Why?

She went through chemotherapy, radiations, surgeries after surgeries. They removed some lymph nodes, they removed her breast, they removed her ovaries, everything. Cancer is an ugly monster than is capably of taking everything from a person, physically and emotionally. Not just the one who is diagnosed with it but those who care about the person as well. I saw her with no hair, and scars on her body from all the surgeries. She was in bed all the time… in and out of hospitals for what seemed forever. I even had to rush her to the oncologist once because I did not know what to do at one point. It was the scariest thing to go through.

Eventually her hair started growing, she stopped getting chemo, stopped getting radiations, and started seeing hope. She fought with all her might to surpass and win. Of course, after someone has cancer, they still have to go back and have check ups to make sure that there are no more cancer cells in the body, but the worst of the worst has passed.

But she was still worried. Not just about the chance of cancer to come back but she was worried about me. Her mom had cancer, she had cancer, so will that mean that I have a chance to get it to?

She urged me to get tested for that “cancer gene,” which is known as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation gene. So I took it.

I went to the oncologist office, did the mouth swab a couple times and that was it. A simple test for hundreds of dollars, but an important test that will determine the way of living for the rest of your life. I waited a couple weeks for my results. I got a call back from the oncologist office. And the results…..

Positive… I do have the “cancer gene.”

The results had no effect on me. I didn’t feel anything. I guess I was a little thrown off but I assumed that I did have it even before a doctor confirmed it.

I remember the doctor telling me all these things I had to do. he set up a timeline for me. I had to have however many kids I wanted to have before the age of 30. I had to have a prophylactic mastectomy surgery (removal of all breast tissue that could potentially develop into breast cancer) and also have a salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries and the Fallopian tubes) between the age of 30 and 35. All this to reduce or even eliminate the risk of getting breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer. I can not take any hormones, since that increases my chance of getting cancer. So doctors recommended eating lots of greens, avoiding all red meat and poultry. I never liked red meat in the first place so that was easy. I am mostly pescatarian with the occasional organic chicken here and there. No hormonal birth control is taken. Overall, avoiding any type of hormones that could be added to my body is my daily concern. Staying active is definitely a priority as well.

Overwhelming to think about, right? Tell me about it. I basically have my whole life planned out.

I am going to be 24 this 2017 year… 6 more years until I’m 30.

The overall take of this long post is to take the BRCA mutation gene test! Do it! It can seriously save your life. I am so thankful for the strong women still alive in my family and I am thankful to know that I am taking the steps needed to save my own life as well.

It doesn’t scare me. I know I will live to be 100 one day. I know what I have to do. Just because I will have my boobs removed, doesn’t mean that I can’t get new ones. Just because I’ll have my ovaries and Fallopian tunes removed, doesn’t make me less of a woman…it just means I won’t get those nasty menstrual cramps and monthly periods.

Stay positive!

Thanks for reading ⚜

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