Meet Mandy! Previvor-BRCA 1 Positive from Pennsylvania
Genetic testing can help predict your chance of developing some types of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancers. It gave me the power to be in control of my life instead of allowing the chips to fall where they may. If my twin sister and I had known about our genetic mutation sooner, we could have saved her from ending up with metastatic breast cancer.
I chose to get a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy for peace of mind. Waiting for scans was excruciating. I felt like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. If I have the power to end my worrying and anxiety, why wouldn’t I take it? I have absolutely zero regrets and can now live my life knowing I did everything in my power to prevent getting breast cancer in my lifetime.
A part of me has survivor’s guilt. Watching my identical twin go through hell during chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation was painful. My job as a nurse practitioner is to help people and here I was feeling helpless because I couldn’t help my own sister.
I am currently doing IVF and genetic testing of my embryos so that my future children DO NOT have to go through the suffering that my family has gone through due to the BRCA 1 gene. My father had the gene and ended up dying from pancreatic cancer, my sister has it and has metastatic breast cancer. I have it but luckily for me, I was able to take preventative measures thanks to my sister. If I can eliminate the possibility of my children inheriting the BRCA 1 mutation and save them from this horrible disease, why wouldn’t I do it? When I am finished having children I am going to have a hysterectomy to lower my risks of getting other cancers caused by the BRCA 1 gene.
It is your body, your life. Do your research, ask questions, seek second opinions and be your own advocate. You cannot always rely on the medical community to advocate for you. If you cannot advocate for yourself, I urge you to find and designate someone who can. Watching my sister advocate for herself has helped her become more informed and an amazing resource for others in the breast cancer community.