Karen

Previvor, Canada

“I removed my healthy breasts and ovaries and have no regrets.  In fact, I am extremely proud of my decision and would not change a thing.”

I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation which gave me an 87% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. I felt like a ticking time bomb. I knew I could control my fate, and so, I dealt cancer a pre-emptive strike!

My story began seven 12 years ago when my father tested positive for the BRCA mutation. Yes, men can inherit the BRCA-mutation. We inherit 50% of our genetics from our mother and 50% of our genetics from our father. It is VERY IMPORTANT to look at both sides of your family history.

After I received my positive results, I knew that I was going to have risk-reducing surgeries.  Six weeks later, I underwent a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of ovaries). Two months later I had my risk reducing double mastectomy with reconstruction.​ 

During this time, I created a women’s only online peer support community on Facebook. It is the largest support group of its kind for women experiencing hereditary breast or ovarian cancer or are at high risk for a hereditary mutation. We are 10,000 strong and growing daily.

Throughout the years I experienced many complications and had an additional 7 surgeries to correct them.​ I was not interested in more surgery, so I decided to define beauty on my own terms and had a beautiful floral design tattooed on my left breast to cover my incision lines.

After this life-changing experience I reached out to P.ink.org (a mastectomy tattoo organization that provides free mastectomy tattoos for women post mastectomy) and told them I am bringing this initiative to Montreal. 5 years later, I have been able to provide 15 women with an amazing experience thanks to the generosity of my tattoo artists.

I have become a huge patient advocate and have had great opportunities come my way. 

I have been featured in a BuzzFeed video that has reached more than 2.7 million viewers. 

I have walked in NYFW for AnaOno Lingerie, a company that designs mastectomy bras and clothing. 

I have been on the cover of Inked Magazine for a feature called Inked for a cure, with 112 other breast cancer survivors. ( I was the only previvor) 

I have also been fortunate enough to speak publicly from Canada to Iceland and I focus on numerous topics: 

Hereditary cancers 

Being your own advocate 

Defining beauty on your own terms 

Advocating for recalled implants 

Peer support 

Navigating surveillance and surgeries 

And more. 

I also have a very large focus on Metastatic breast cancer and how little funding goes to it.

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